UN envoy 'disappointed' over cancelled Myanmar briefing

November 21, 2007

SINGAPORE (AFP) -- The United Nations special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, said Tuesday he was disappointed"" by the decision to cancel his briefing to Southeast Asian leaders meeting here.

When asked by AFP for his reaction to Monday's decision by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, he replied: ""Disappointed, of course. That was why I came here.""
""This was not part of my broader agenda. This would have been a bonus,"" Gambari told AFP at his Singapore hotel, insisting that ASEAN leaders had nevertheless issued an ""extremely positive"" statement on Myanmar.
Gambari arrived here early Tuesday, a day before he was to brief the 10 ASEAN leaders plus their six dialogue partners -- Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea -- on the Myanmar situation.
ASEAN has come under mounting pressure to rein in its errant member after the September crackdown on protesters, led by Buddhist monks, that left at least 15 people dead and sparked worldwide outrage.
But Southeast Asian leaders decided late Monday to scrap the briefing after Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein objected, saying Gambari should report only to the UN Security Council -- and not to Asian leaders.
""Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar made clear that the situation in Myanmar was a domestic Myanmar thing and that Myanmar was fully capable of handling the situation by itself,"" said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
""In view of Myanmar's position, professor Gambari will not brief the ASEAN or the East Asian summit leaders,"" Lee told a press conference, flanked by his ASEAN counterparts -- except Thein Sein.
But Lee added: ""Most leaders expressed the view that Myanmar could not go back or stay put. The process of national reconciliation had to move forward and the UN take a vital role in this process.""
Gambari told AFP: ""If you look at the statement that came out ... it was extremely positive.""
""For us at the UN, this was an extremely constructive outcome of their discussions so far,"" he added.
Lee indicated that leaders would be welcome to meet Gambari individually, and the UN envoy said he already had appointments with the Singapore prime minister and Philippines President Gloria Arroyo.
When asked if he would meet with anyone from Myanmar, he replied: ""I hope so.""