World leaders press UN chief on Myanmar prisoners

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declined an appeal Wednesday by 112 former presidents and prime ministers from around the world to return to Myanmar and press for the release of all political prisoners there. In an effort led by Norway's former prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former leaders urged Ban to make good on the Security Council's call in October 2007 for Myanmar to release the prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. They wrote that Ban should return to Myanmar because it "would illustrate for the world whether or not the Burmese military regime is serious about making changes called for by the United Nations Security Council and your good offices." Ban traveled to Myanmar, also known as Burma, in May in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. Setting aside political considerations, he gambled correctly that a private meeting with Senior Gen. Than Shwe would persuade Myanmar's reclusive leader to ease access for foreign aid workers and relief supplies.