3 Jul 2009

UN boss meets with Myanmar military ruler

11:03 pm on 3 July 2009

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has met Myanmar's junta leader to lobby for the release of political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr Ban is holding talks with General Than Shwe in the remote administrative capital Nay Pyi Taw.

Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has spent much of the past two decades in prison or under house arrest.

Her trial on charges of breaking the terms of her house arrest, has been adjourned for another week.

The UN secretary general said in his opening statement to the junta leader: "I appreciate your commitment to move your country forward... I would like to contribute, to work together, for peace and prosperity," reported AFP news agency.

Ms Suu Kyi's lawyers have been appealing against the judge's ban on testimony from three defence witnesses. One additional defence witness will be allowed to testify.

"The Supreme Court did not send the case files to the lower court, so the case has been adjourned until July 10," said her lawyer Nyan Win. He added Ms Suu Kyi had expressed surprise at the further delay.

The trial of Ms Suu Kyi, 64, has caused outrage around the world. Critics of Myanmar's military government have dismissed it as a ruse to keep the opposition leader locked up until after next year's election.

The BBC reports Mr Ban is also likely to urge that next year's elections in Myanmar have some legitimacy.

The government called national polls in May 1990 which Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won convincingly, but the junta refused to hand over control, and has remained in power ever since.