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UN Security Council Urges Restraint Against Protesters

26 September 2007

The United Nations Security Council is urging Burma's military government to show restraint toward peaceful protesters and allow a visit by U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

Gambari briefed the Council Wednesday about the latest developments in Burma during a closed-door emergency session.

Separately on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, EU and U.S. ministers released a joint statement. In it, they called on Burma to stop using violence against protesters and to open dialogue with pro-democracy leaders.

U.S. and European leaders have also called on China to use its influence to press Burma's military regime to open a dialogue with opponents.

Chinese officials said Tuesday that China would stay out of Burma's affairs. But reports suggest China may be engaging in quiet behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

Also today, U.N. human rights chief Louise Arbour urged Burma's government to abide by international laws allowing peaceful expression of dissent.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined other world leaders in condemning the crackdown. Following a meeting today with Burmese opposition politicians, Mr. Sarkozy urged French firms, including oil giant Total, to refrain from making new investments in Burma.

Earlier, France's European affairs minister, Jean-Pierre Jouyet urged the European Union to impose stronger sanctions on Burma's government.

A U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution today calling for the immediate and unconditional release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

On Tuesday, the United States announced new sanctions against Burma's generals, their supporters and families.

Italy's prime minister, Romano Prodi, called on the EU to hold an urgent meeting on the situation in Burma.

The EU earlier warned it would "reinforce and strengthen its sanctions" if the protests are put down by force.

But Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of U.N. Security Council, took a different position on the protests. The Russian Foreign Ministry called interference in Burma's internal affairs counterproductive.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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