UN envoy discusses Myanmar with Thai officials

Other News Materials 15 October 2007 12:19 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - The United Nations special envoy to Myanmar met with Thai officials in Bangkok on Monday, to discuss the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, where the ruling junta continues its crackdown on dissenters.

Ibrahim Gambari's visit to Thailand is the first leg of his six-nation tour of southeast Asian nations aimed at coordinating international efforts to end the crisis.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, faces new sanctions from the European Union, including possible embargos on key imports from the country, asset freezes, and visa bans. The 27-nation bloc's foreign ministers are set to meet later today to discuss the possible measures.

In Bangkok, the UN diplomat met with Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggramm, and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont later in the day. After leaving Thailand, Gambari will travel to Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China, and Japan, before visiting Myanmar.

Thailand is Myanmar's main economic partner, and spends around $2 billion per year on natural gas imports from the country. The Thai leadership, which is appointed by the military, has so far resisted sanctions against the Myanmar junta.

Speaking on Saturday, Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont condemned the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar in late September, but said his government would be "very careful on this issue," to avoid "bad feelings with our neighbor."

The Myanmar leadership has admitted that 10 people were killed in the protests, led by the country's revered Buddhist monks, but independent reports quote figures up to 20 times higher. The protests were sparked by a massive fuel price hike in August. Arrests of dissenters continued this weekend, adding to the thousands of political prisoners in the country. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the crackdown and called for the release of jailed dissidents.

Access to information in Myanmar remains tightly controlled, and international news websites remain blocked, after a two-week nationwide internet ban was lifted on Sunday. The junta closed down internet access after international media began circulating images of state troops brutally dispersing protesters.