Burmese PM, UN Envoy To Visit Cambodia

The new prime minister of Bur­ma, General Thein Sein, and the UN’s special envoy to Burma, Ibra­him Gambari, are scheduled to visit Cambodia this week, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Gambari is scheduled to arrive Thursday and plans to meet with government officials to discuss the situation in Burma, where in September troops violently suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations, a UN spokeswoman said.

The UN envoy departs the following day, Friday, when Thein Sein is scheduled to arrive on the first of a three-day official visit to Cambodia, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

Advocates for democracy in Burma say that Cambodia is in a good position to mediate with Bur­ma’s military leaders. However, government officials said that Thein Sein is only on a courtesy call.

The Burmese prime minister will meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, according to a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

There are no plans for Gambari to meet with Thein Sein during his trip to Cambodia, but his agenda for the visit has not yet been finalized, the UN envoy’s spokeswo­man, Hua Jiang, said by telephone from Hanoi on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility but we’re waiting for final confirmation,” Hua Jiang said.

Currently in Vietnam, Gambari is scheduled to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong during his visit to Phnom Penh where he will discuss the situation in Burma, Hua Jiang said.

Gambari also hopes to solicit support for his mission to Burma, she added.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay, who is also chair of a special inter-party Burma-Cambodia caucus at the National Assembly, said that he hoped Hun Sen would tell his Burmese counterpart that the military must reconcile with its democratically-elected government.

“Hun Sen could be a very important person in bringing peace to Burma as he is trusted by the military leadership there,” Son Chhay said.

Son Chhay also said that it was clear that there is division among the Asean member states as to how best to proceed on the Burma issue.

At last week’s Asean summit in Singapore, Vietnam, Laos and Cam­­bodia were allied in objecting to Asean taking an overly hard line against Burma for its latest crackdown on the pro-democracy move­­ment.

Gambari was due to address the summit on the Burma situation, but his speech was cancelled at the last minute, according to media reports, after protests from Thein Sein.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith poured cold water Tues­day on any suggestion that Cam­bodia would be putting pressure on Burma to reform.

The visit by Thein Sein, Khieu Kanharith said, is a protocol visit to introduce himself after his October appointment as prime minister, following similar visits to Vietnam and Lao earlier this month.

“This is a courtesy visit,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the Bur­mese embassy in Phnom Penh said Tuesday the Embassy would not comment on Thein Sein’s visit.

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