Former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon meets with Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw on April 24, 2023. (AFP)

Former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon meets Myanmar junta chief


Former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon met for talks with top officials from Myanmar’s junta on Monday as the bloody conflict engulfing the country spirals.

Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis unleashed by the military’s 2021 coup have stalled, with the junta ignoring international criticism of its brutal crackdown on dissent and refusing to engage with its opponents.

Ban met junta chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing in military-built capital Nay Pyi Taw and “constructively and openly exchanged views on the latest developments in Myanmar,” according to the junta’s information team.

It did not give details on the talks. 

Ban also met with junta-appointed defence minister General Mya Tun Oo, according to a statement from the junta.

Both Mya Tun Oo and Min Aung Hlaing have been sanctioned by the United States since the junta’s coup in 2021.

Local media NP News said Ban had not met with ousted leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, citing a junta spokesman.

Ban left Myanmar on Monday, the outlet said.

Ban is a member of “The Elders” group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, which works to promote peace and defuse conflicts.

On his arrival in Nay Pyi Taw he was met by the deputy ministers for defence and foreign affairs, state media reported early Monday, without providing details.

A bulletin on state-run TV showed Ban waving for the cameras as he arrived at the airport, accompanied by several officials.

AFP has contacted The Elders for comment on Ban’s trip.

Ban, who also served as South Korean foreign minister, travelled to Myanmar several times during his time as UN secretary general.

In 2009 he visited to pressure then junta leader Senior-General Than Shwe to release Aung San Suu Kyi, but the general brazenly snubbed his attempts to visit the pro-democracy figurehead.

In 2016, with Aung San Suu Kyi out of jail and serving as Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader, he returned to solidify international support for her push to sign peace agreements with the country’s myriad ethnic rebel groups.

Aung San Suu Kyi was detained again at the start of the 2021 coup, which plunged the country into tumult and tanked the economy. 

UN special envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer requested a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the country in August last year. 

The military rebuffed the request and Heyzer later vowed she would not visit the country again unless she was allowed to meet the Nobel laureate.

The junta wrapped up a series of closed-court trials of Aung San Suu Kyi in December, jailing her for a total of 33 years in a process rights groups have condemned as a sham.

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