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UN Security Council Debates Action on Burma

05 October 2007

The United Nations Security Council has debated whether to impose sanctions or take other action in response to Burma's violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told the Security Council Friday that the United States will introduce a resolution imposing sanctions, if the Burmese government does not respond appropriately to the international community's concerns. He said the Council must be prepared to consider measures such as arms embargoes.

But China's Ambassador Wang Guangya opposed pressuring Burma, saying that could lead to mistrust and confrontation.

Burma's Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe said no action by the Security Council is warranted.

Earlier, United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Council about his recent trip to Burma, and warned Burma's military rulers that their violent crackdown on anti-government protests could have serious international consequences.

Gambari also demanded that Burma immediately release all political prisoners, including those detained during the recent pro-democracy protests.

Burmese state media acknowledged that hundreds of monks were detained during the crackdown, but it said all but 109 have been released. The announcement followed Thursday's report that authorities arrested more than two thousand people during the past week.

Earlier Friday, the White House urged the U.N. to send Gambari back to Burma as soon as possible to work with Aung San Suu Kyi and military leaders towards a peaceful transition to democracy. It called on the Security Council to act.

Gambari told the Council he was not successful in gathering information about events inside Burma during his recent visit. But he said he was more successful in expressing the concerns of the international community and in encouraging dialogue between Burma's military leaders and opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi.

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

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