New York, NY (BBN) – The next two months will be crucial for Myanmar, potentially determining its political future and its place in the international community, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on Monday.

In a meeting with the so-called Group of Friends on Myanmar, comprising more than a dozen nations and regional blocs supporting his good offices mandate in the South-East Asian country, Mr. Ban stressed that for any transition to succeed, it must involve not only those who participated and won seats in the election, but also those who did not or could not, and this must include the release of political prisoners.

“Looking ahead, we need to keep encouraging the authorities to take steps to make the political transition broad-based and inclusive,” spokesman Martin Nesirky quoted him as saying.

The meeting – which was briefed by Mr. Ban’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, who has just returned from talks with the country’s leaders and a broad range of civil society – called on the authorities to achieve this by building on recent developments, including through the specific steps proposed by the United Nations.

Mr. Ban noted that addressing concerns about the credibility of the transition process to date is also essential for any next steps to succeed, stressing that “regrettably, the conduct of the elections was far below the international community’s expectations.”

The meeting highlighted the need for greater international consensus towards Myanmar, endorsing a comprehensive UN engagement in the political, humanitarian and development areas, in parallel and with equal attention.

BBN/SI/AD-07Dec10-1:36 pm (BST)