Ban Ki-moon to Myanmar: Free all political prisoners
Declaring his willingness to visit Myanmar again, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the country's military government to follow up its recent prisoner release by freeing all political detainees and quickly resuming talks with the opposition without preconditions.

While Ban said there should not be any preconditions to a return visit, he made clear that the international community wants to see significant steps by Myanmar's military junta toward national reconciliation and "full democratization."

"This is the time for Myanmar to seize the opportunity before it to send positive signals," he said.

The secretary-general has come under mounting pressure to go back to Myanmar following visits by his top envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, in August and early February which produced no movement on key issues.

These include UN recommendations to open a serious political dialogue between detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the government, release Suu Kyi and some 2,200 other political prisoners, promote national reconciliation, and ensure that elections in 2010 will include all opposition and minority groups.

Ban noted that following Gambari's latest visit Myanmar's junta announced an amnesty for more than 6,300 prisoners which reportedly includes some 23 political prisoners "as of now," including "individuals whose names Mr. Gambari discussed with the authorities during his visit."