United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari met Sunday with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a key symbol in the country's pro-democracy movement, which has been quelled by a huge deployment of soldiers in at least two major cities.

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A Myanmar citizen living in Japan holds a photograph of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, during a protest march against Myanmar's military junta in downtown Tokyo on Sunday. ((Junji Kurokawa/Associated Press))

The meeting took place at a state guest house in Rangoon, the capital of Burma, also known as Myanmar. Suu Kyi was taken there from the residence where she has been held under house arrest.

Diplomats said the meeting lasted about 90 minutes and can be viewed as something of a concession by Burma's military rulers.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate whose party's election win in 1990 was annulled by the junta, has beenunder house arrest for more than a decade and is rarely granted visitors. She was, however, allowed a visit from Gambarilast year in Rangoon.

On Saturday, Gambari met with members of the junta to discuss last week's violent suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations. He stayed overnight in Naypyidaw, 385 kilometres north of Rangoon, foreign diplomats from Asian countries said.

A UN statement issued Sunday said Gambari has sofar been unable to talk to Burma's most senior general, although he is still trying to arrange a meeting.

Soldiers and police were posted on almost all corners in the cities of Rangoon and Mandalay on the weekend in a show of force that prevented new street marches.

An Asian diplomat said the number of troops in Rangoon, the largest city, swelled to about 20,000 after reinforcements arrived overnight, ensuring that almost all demonstrators will remain off the streets.

Scores of people were arrested overnight, observers said.

In another development, the Catholic Church inBurma has ordered its clergy not to get involved in any protests, which were led last week by thousands of Buddhist monks and their supporters.

With files from the Associated Press