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BURMA: UN Sec Gen turns heat on ruling generals

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ban_ki_moon_en.jpgSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there is "growing frustration" around the world with Burma's ruling generals. He spoke to reporters after emerging from a closed-door meeting during which he spent more than an hour trying to get 14 nations to exert more influence on Burma.

The so-called Group of Friends on Burma, which Mr Ban created a year ago, includes both Western nations pushing for human rights reforms and Southeast Asian trading partners, chiefly China, with different priorities.

All share "not only a higher expectation but also a growing frustration that our efforts have yet to yield the results we all hope for. I share this sense of expectation and frustration," Mr Ban said.
Mr Ban also received a letter signed by 112 former presidents and prime ministers urging him to return to Burma and to press its military junta to free all political prisoners.

Burma's military, which has ruled since 1962, tolerates no dissent and crushed pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks in September 2007.

It holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, up sharply from nearly 1,200 before the demonstrations, human rights groups say.
Mr Ban travelled to Burma last May after Cyclone Nargis devastated coastal areas.

He was able to meet with the junta's top leader, Senior General Than Shwe, and persuade him to ease access for foreign aid workers and relief supplies.