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UN envoy to Myanmar begins talks with junta chief

#envoy #Myanmar #begins #talks #junta #chief

The new UN special envoy for Myanmar began meetings with senior junta officials on Wednesday, but did not reply when asked if she would try to meet ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Noeleen Heyzer’s visit to the crisis-hit country, which began Tuesday, will “focus on addressing the deteriorating situation and immediate concerns, as well as other priority areas of her mandate,” the United Nations said.

Heyzer did not respond to AFP questions about whether she would meet Suu Kyi on Wednesday as she left her hotel in a motorcade escorted by plainclothes police and security guards.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been jailed since the military coup and received another sentence from a secret junta court on Monday – bringing her total sentence to 17 years.

Heyzer will meet foreign minister and junta chief Min Aung Hlaing later on Wednesday, spokesman Zaw Min Tun said at a news conference.

“We hope for good results (from the meeting),” he said.

Myanmar has been mired in turmoil since the military seized power in February 2021, which has led to fierce resistance and the emergence of informal militias.

Over 2,200 people were killed and over 15,000 arrested as the military cracked down on dissidents, according to a local watch group.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, led by the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional bloc, have made little headway as the generals refuse to cooperate with opponents.

Last month, the junta sparked renewed international condemnation when it executed Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former National League for Democracy MP from Suu Kyi, for violating anti-terrorism laws.

Singaporean sociologist Heyzer was appointed last year by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to succeed Swiss diplomat Christine Schraner Burgener.

Schraner Burgener had urged the UN to take “very strong action” against the military and was the target of regular broadsides in Myanmar’s state-backed media.

Military leaders prevented her from visiting the country where she had hoped to meet with Suu Kyi.

In December, state media reported that the junta had closed its office in Myanmar, saying its work in Myanmar was “complete”.

There were no reports in the state media as to whether Heyzer would be allowed to open an office in the country.

Rights groups said they had little optimism their visit would persuade the military to end its bloody crackdown and engage in dialogue with opponents of his coup.

“UN envoys visited them when the military told them to, stayed where the military told them to, met who the military arranged for them and then left when the military told them to has,” tweeted Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.

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