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Monday, November 26, 2007 : 1655 Hrs

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    UN envoy asks Vietnam to engage with Myanmar on political crisis

    Hanoi (AP): A U.N. diplomat encouraged Vietnam on Monday to engage in international efforts to help resolve Myanmar's political crisis.

    Vietnam will soon become a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and has better relations with Myanmar than most other countries in the region, Ibrahim Gambari told reporters.

    As a result, Vietnam has a responsibility to ``exercise that closeness, that leverage, positively,'' Gambari, the U.N. envoy for Myanmar, said.

    Gambari, who met later in the day with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, said he delivered a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon asking Vietnam to urge Myanmar to intensify its efforts to cooperate with the UN.

    The goal, he said, is to create a ``peaceful, united, stable, prosperous, democratic Myanmar with full respect for human rights.''

    Gambari, who visited Myanmar from Nov. 3-8, said he hoped to return there before the end of the year.

    Myanmar sparked global outrage in September when the country's ruling military junta crushed pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks, killing at least 15 people. More than 2,000 were arrested.

    During Gambari's visit to Myanmar, the junta assured him that political arrests would stop, but more were reported after he left.

    The additional arrests, Gambari said Monday, were ``unfortunate'' and ran counter to the concerns of the international community.

    Gambari is visiting Vietnam as part of a swing through the region to discuss the Myanmar conflict. He will visit Cambodia and Laos after he leaves Hanoi on Tuesday.

    Vietnam, which will join the Security Council next year, has said it opposes imposing economic sanctions on Myanmar.

    Myanmar's recently appointed prime minister, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, paid a courtesy visit to Vietnam earlier this month.

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