UN’s Ban to Meet Suu Kyi Party Members

YANGON ~ UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to meet senior members of the party of Aung San Suu Kyi when he visits Myanmar this week but has no plans yet to see the opposition leader, a party spokesman said.

Ban was set to arrive in the military-ruled nation on Friday for a two-day visit focused on pressing the junta to release all political prisoners including the jailed Nobel peace laureate.

“The authorities informed us that five central executive committee members of the NLD (National League for Democracy) are to meet Mr Ban Ki-moon. We don’t know details yet,” NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.

He said the five did not include Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently being held at the notorious Insein Prison in the commercial hub Yangon where she is on trial for breaching the terms of her house arrest.

Nyan Win and other members of her legal team were due to meet her at the jail on Thursday, a day before her trial resumes.

A Myanmar official speaking on condition of anonymity said that Ban would meet with members of 10 political parties including the NLD in the administrative capital Naypyidaw on Friday.

Ban is also set to meet junta leader Senior General Than Shwe in Naypyidaw on the same day and is due to fly back to Yangon on Saturday, officials said.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 64, faces up to five years in jail if convicted of the charges against her, which stem from a bizarre incident in May in which an American man, John Yettaw, swam uninvited to her lakeside house.

Ban acknowledged this week that the visit was diplomatically risky as it coincides with the internationally condemned trial, but said that finding an appropriate time to come to Myanmar had been a challenge.

Speaking in Tokyo on Tuesday, he urged Myanmar to release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi and resume dialogue with opposition leaders.

The NLD leader has been in detention or under house arrest for most of the time since the junta refused to recognise her party’s landslide victory in Myanmar’s last elections, in 1990.

Critics have accused the junta of using the trial to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up for elections that are due in 2010.

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