17 January 2008Disappointed with the slow pace of change in Myanmar, the Security Council today said an early return to the country by United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari could help promote progress towards democratization and national reconciliation. Mr. Gambari, who has a standing invitation to return to Myanmar, had requested to go there this month. However, the Government has said it prefers he visit in mid-April. In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi of Libya, which holds the rotating presidency for January, the 15-member body “regretted the slow rate of progress so far” towards meeting the objectives laid out in a presidential statement issued by the Council last October.They include steps by the Government for a “genuine dialogue” with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation process, and the release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees.“Council members underscored the importance of further progress, noting that an early visit to Myanmar by Mr. Gambari could help facilitate this,” the statement added.Speaking to reporters following the Council’s discussions, Mr. Gambari said that while the date of his return is still under discussion, “in view of [the] many issues left on the table, the earlier a visit occurs the better.” He said the Myanmar authorities need to move toward tangible progress on the constitution, freedom for all political prisoners, and addressing the root causes of discontent among the population. Mr. Gambari, who has visited Myanmar twice since the Government used force to crack down on peaceful protesters in the summer of 2007, intends to visit India and China later this month.He noted that while countries in the region have placed on record their support for the good offices role of the Secretary-General on the issue of Myanmar, “there is still more that everybody can do.”All those who have a role to play, both inside the country and outside, should be given the chance to do so in the interest of moving toward “a peaceful, prosperous but democratic Myanmar with full respect for the human rights of its people,” he stated.