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U.N. envoy meets with Myanmar opposition leader

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  • NEW: Japan mulling sanctions to protest Japanese journalist shot dead, says AP
  • U.N. envoy didn't meet junta leaders Senior Gen. Than Shwe, or his deputy
  • Pope offers support to Myanmar people during "painful trial," AP reports
  • U.N. envoy Gambari sees opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, U.N. confirms
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(CNN) -- United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari met Sunday with Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an effort to quell recent tensions between the country's military leaders and protesters, the U.N. confirmed in a news release.

The hour-long meeting took place in the Myanmar city of Yangon. No other details were released.

The encounter was rare because Suu Kyi is under house arrest and has been barred by the government from meeting with foreigners.

Gambari arrived in Myanmar Saturday following a week of protests by citizens and Buddhist monks that were met with increasing force at the hands of government security guards.

Once in Myanmar, Gambari was taken to the isolated bunker-like capital Naypyidaw for talks with senior government officials in hopes of finding a peaceful resolution to the ongoing clashes.

Gambari met with the acting prime minister, the deputy foreign minister and the ministers of information and culture.

The meeting, however, did not include the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, or his deputy, Gen. Maung Aye, the two key figures whom Gambari had been pushing to speak with before his arrival.

On Sunday he was taken to Yangon -- the former Burmese capital of Rangoon -- where one Western diplomat described the scene as "bizarrely normal, dismal. There is barbed wire up and down the streets. Policemen and soldiers all along the streets (are) just hanging around." Video Watch protesters clash with authorities »

Security reinforcements were brought in, one witness in the city told CNN, to stave off any possible uprising by anti-government protesters, who in recent days have seen a stalwart oppression at the hands of the ruling military junta.

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Also, in anticipation of his visit streets were swept clean of glass, brick, splattered blood and any other tell-tale signs of the violence that swept over the city.

"That is making a lot of people angry," the witness said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Monday Japan's chief Cabinet spokesman Nobutaka Machimura said Japan, Myanmar's largest aid donor, is mulling sanctions or other actions to protest the junta's crackdown, which left a Japanese journalist dead, chief Cabinet spokesman Nobutaka Machimura said Monday.

In Washington Saturday, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe had urged Myanmar's leaders to allow Gambari to meet with "all those he wishes to meet with," including Suu Kyi.

Pope Benedict XVI offered support to the citizens of Myanmar, The Associated Press reported. About 1 percent of the population are Catholics, according to AP, and 3 percent follow other Christian denominations.

"I want to express my spiritual closeness to the dear population in this moment of the very painful trial it is going through," the pontiff said, according to AP.

Suu Kyi has been detained for various periods since 1989 after her National League for Democracy won the country's first free multiparty elections in 30 years but the military junta refused to hand over power. See a timeline of events in Myanmar »

She was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her work aimed at restoring democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Gambari plans to conclude his visit with Myanmar's leader Senior General Than Shwe, the United Nations said. See more about the nation of Myanmar »

The U.N. envoy planned to tell the junta leader "about the international outrage over what has happened and will urge him to talk with various people and try to resolve the problems peacefully," Shari Villarosa, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Yangon, told CNN. Photo See dramatic I-Report photos of the unrest »

Heavy security was meant to quash any hopes protesters may have of staging anti-government demonstrations during Gambari's visit to Yangon -- which has been at the center of a violent crackdown by the ruling military junta -- the witness said.

As part of the security clampdown, main roads to the airport were shut and one witness in the city said even loitering on the streets of Yangon was considered risky. Although the circumstances were unclear, the witness said she saw a pair of teenage boys on their knees being questioned by guards.

Acting to crush demonstrations, security guards have used increasing force in recent days, resulting in the death of at least 10 people, according to media and opposition reports, which CNN cannot independently confirm.

However, protesters have been waiting for their chance to take to the streets to show Gambari "that hope is zero percent," the witness said. The mood in Yangon has been "very angry," she said. "We can see the emotion in every place in the city."

A Western diplomat echoed those sentiments, telling CNN there were rumors that protesters were gearing up for a strike on Monday.

"Security is so tight," the witness said. "But the most interesting place is the State Guest House on University Avenue," where Gambari is slated to stay.

"It's totally inaccessible," she said, adding that barbed wire has been snaked throughout the grounds. "Soldiers have barricades ready and any suspicious person they search...just around the bend there are three truckloads of soldiers, riot police and a fire engine."

Few shops were open Sunday and even fewer cars took to the roads, where security guards have been taking preventative measures.

"Even having a camera on hand is dangerous ... they will snatch it," the witness said. Meanwhile, the clampdown on the Internet continued and opposition blogs that in earlier days listed numerous updates on activities in the city remained paired down Sunday.

One opposition Web site, Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com), reported on activities in the northern part of the country in the city of Mandalay on Sunday afternoon. Click here to see www.mizzima.com

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Security forces there have restricted the movement of Buddhist monks and locked most of the monasteries, "effectively barring the Buddhist clergy from marching on the streets in protest, the report said, which CNN cannot independently confirm.

In response, monks chanted words of "loving kindness," the report said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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