YANGON, Myanmar – A U.N. special envoy Friday began pressing Myanmar (search) officials to release democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (search), detained after a clash that U.S. officials say may have been orchestrated by the country's military regime.
Razali Ismail (search) met with Foreign Minister Win Aung after arriving in the capital Yangon. His five-day mission came amid mounting pressure from the international community on the Myanmar junta to allow him to meet the Nobel Peace Prize (search) laureate.
"I am making a strong bid to get [Suu Kyi] released immediately," Razali, a Malaysian, said in Kuala Lumpur before departing for Myanmar.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win and foreign diplomats, greeted him at the Yangon airport, though Razali declined to speak to reporters. "I'm in the hands of the government here," he said.
Later Friday, he was to attend a dinner with foreign businessmen Saturday, according to organizers who spoke on condition of anonymity. There were no details about Razali's meeting with the foreign minister or his further plans.
Myanmar has barred access to Suu Kyi since the May 30 clash, saying only she is unhurt and in custody at "a safe place." Offices of her National League for Democracy (search) party have been shut and at least 19 other opposition figures detained.
Myanmar's junta has said the fighting began when Suu Kyi's motorcade drove through a crowd of townspeople protesting her visit to a northern village. The military says four people were killed, none of them of Suu Kyi's party.
Exile groups allege that government-backed forces staged an ambush on the pro-democracy leader and that 70 or more people may have been killed over two days. They say the clash was planned by the junta to justify a crackdown on the National League for Democracy and that Suu Kyi may have received head injuries.
U.S. officials said Thursday that some of those claims were corroborated by diplomats who visited the scene. The United States also says evidence from the clash site suggested that many people may have been killed.
A senior member of Suu Kyi's party told The Associated Press on Friday that at least four opposition politicians who work closely with her have been taken from their homes in Yangon by authorities over the past three days.
Also, Amnesty International (search) said Friday that it had received reports that other party members were detained this week in central and northern Myanmar. The human rights group said it was gravely concerned about more than 100 people missing since the violence.
Tight media controls and the remote location of the northern village where the fighting broke out made it impossible to confirm what happened. Phone lines to the area appear to have been cut.
In late 2000, Razali brokered reconciliation talks between the government and Suu Kyi, whose party won 1990 general elections but was blocked by the military from taking power. The talks had provided hope that the country's political impasse could be bridged, but the dialogue reached a standstill last year.
Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her nonviolent struggle to promote democracy.