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Hun Sen Encourages Talks Between Junta, Democracy Leaders

Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein arrived in Phnom Penh for bilateral talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen Friday, as a UN special envoy to the junta-led country departed.

In late talks with Thein Shein following his arrival, Hun Sen urged meetings between the governing junta of Burma and pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, "for the sake both sides."

"But the two sides must be willing to seek solutions for national interests," the spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, said.

The Burmese government has staged a violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in recent weeks.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who is traveling across the region to gauge support for reconciliation in Burma, said at a press conference that talks with Deputy Prime Minister Chea Sim and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had been fruitful and Cambodia "strongly supports" the UN's role in Burma.

Cambodia also indicated it would use "every opportunity," including Thein Shein's trip, to "speed up the process of democratization…and enhance respect for human rights" in Burma, Gambari said.

"We agreed that the best way to avoid sanctions, or more sanctions, is actually more cooperation by the government of [Burma] with the United Nations, not less," Gambari said.

"The [Burmese] government is trying to boost democracy, but first [its] priority is to restore peace, public order and the economy," Khieu Kanharith said. "The government is doing what it can to make the transfer of power peaceful."