YANGON, Myanmar — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ahead of his trip today to Myanmar that he plans to lobby the military-ruled country's top leader directly for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ban arrives in Myanmar for meetings with leaders on the same day that Suu Kyi's widely criticized trial resumes. The U.N. chief's visit magnifies the international spotlight on the trial, which has been delayed for a month but is expected to wrap up quickly after a final defense witness takes the stand today.
Ban said this week that the two-day visit, which includes talks with the country's military leaders, will be "a very challenging one." It was not clear if he would be allowed to meet with Suu Kyi.
The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American man swam secretly to her home and stayed for two days. She pleaded not guilty but faces five years in prison if convicted.
Ban is scheduled to meet today with the country's leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, in Naypyitaw, the remote administrative capital the junta moved its government offices to in 2005.