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G8 leaders respond to Burma intransigence

July 10, 2009 (DVB), Leaders of the world's major industrialised nations have expressed concern about Burma's unwillingness to respond to UN chief Ban Ki-moon's diplomatic efforts during his recent visit to Burma.

The issue was brought up between Ban Ki-moon and British prime minister Gordon Brown on the sidelines of the annual Group of Eight (G8) summit, currently underway in Italy.

In a statement the G8 leaders "welcomed" Ban Ki-moon's visit last week, which observers have said seemingly achieved little in the face of Burma's unwavering military junta.

The statement spoke of shared concerns about the intransigence of the Burmese government, and said that G8 nations "will closely consult on our collective and individual response".

No further details have been given, although Gordon Brown said following the UN chief's visit that further sanctions on the regime were "on the international agenda".

There has been no suggestion yet that the Burmese junta will meet any of Ban Ki-moon's three principal requests, including the release of political prisoners and instigation of dialogue between the government and opposition groups.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due back in the courtroom today for resumption of a trial that many believe will result in her being imprisoned beyond the elections next year.

Ban Ki-moon was twice denied a meeting with Suu Kyi, who is being held in a special unit inside Rangoon's Insein prison where the trial is taking place.

"We reiterate our call on the Government of Myanmar [Burma] to release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose continued detention would undermine the credibility of elections planned for 2010," the G8 statement said.

Reporting by Francis Wade


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