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US ready to press for UN sanctions against Burma

Latest update : 2008-01-08

The United States is prepared to introduce a resolution against Burma if it fails to cooperate with the UN. Watch our exclusive footage of the junta crackdown on protests.

The United States warned Myanmar Friday it would push for UN sanctions against the junta if it fails to cooperate with a UN envoy, despite signs Beijing would again oppose any such move. "If the Burmese regime does not respond constructively to the demands of the international community in a timely manner, the United States is prepared to introduce a resolution in the Security Council imposing sanctions," US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the UN Security Council. All council members must be prepared "to consider measures such as arms embargoes to convince the ruling junta to cooperate with (UN special envoy Ibrahim) Gambari," he said. "It is time for the council to do more than simply listen to a briefing," the US envoy said. But China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya countered that putting pressure on Myanmar's military rulers to achieve greater democratization "would only lead to confrontation." "It is quite understandable for the outside world to express concern or expectations regarding the situation on the ground," he told the 15-member council. "However pressure would not serve any purpose and would only lead to confrontation, or even the loss of dialogue, between Myanmar and the international community." Khalilzad insisted "the eyes of the world are focused on Burma" and urged greater efforts to support moves by UN chief Ban Ki-moon "to establish a genuine political dialogue between the regime and all parties to condemn the deplorable repression of peaceful demonstrators and to call on the Burmese regime to release detainees and political prisoners." Khalilzad was sepaking after Gambari delivered a report on his recent four-day mission to Myanmar to try to defuse the crisis sparked by the military regime's crackdown on anti-government protests. He urged Gambari to return to the region "as soon as possible" to continue his intensive diplomatic efforts, and called on "all governments with influence with the (Myanmar) regime to support his return and his mission." In Washington, the State Department said talks on Friday between the top US diplomat in Myanmar and the Southeast Asian nation's junta over the crackdown did not prove productive. "It was a not a terribly edifying meeting from our perspective," department spokesman Sean McCormack said. US charge de affairs in Yangon Shari Villarosa met with a deputy foreign minister from the Myanmar military regime in the junta's administrative capital Naypyidaw in the first such high-level talks since the crackdown. "From the sketchy readout I have of it, what she heard in private wasn't much different than what you hear from the government in public and our views on their interpretation of events is well known," McCormack said. At least 13 people are reported to have been killed and more than 2,000 people were arrested in the military crackdown on last week's peaceful pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks. Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win defended his government's crackdown at the UN General Assembly on Monday, blaming the turmoil on "political opportunists" backed by "powerful countries," which he did not name. But the US view is that the brutal suppression against peaceful protestors is "disgraceful," McCormack said. The meeting between Villarosa and the junta came as Myanmar's state media reported Thursday that military strongman Senior General Than Shwe would be willing to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi if she met several conditions, including ending support for sanctions on the regime. The United States has been spearheading political, economic and diplomatic sanctions on the military regime, including a ban on investment and imports.

Date created : 2008-01-08

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