Sun, Oct 01, 2006 - Page 5 News List

US to introduce UN resolution seeking change in Myanmar


The US told the UN Security Council it plans to introduce a resolution on Myanmar later this year as part of its campaign to end the military dictatorship's repressive policies and promote democracy and human rights.

US Ambassador John Bolton said on Friday that Washington wants to wait for a return visit to Myanmar by Undersecretary-General Ibrahim Gambari before deciding on the exact contents of the resolution.

The US State Department said that it will seek a resolution demanding freedom for political prisoners and a democratic movement toward some form of national reconciliation.

Gambari said Myanmar's UN ambassador reiterated during the council meeting on Friday that the government has invited him to visit again early next month.

Bolton accused the country's military leaders of responding to Gambari's appeal for the release of democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi and over a thousand political prisoners during his first visit in May by freeing one prisoner and extending Suu Kyi's detention for another year.

The US envoy also reported "no progress" on other key requests, including establishing an inclusive political dialogue, ending military offensives and human rights violations against ethnic minorities and easing restrictions on NGOs.

The international community should speak with one voice on the need for the regime "to seek democratic reforms, to end its assault on the ethnic minorities ... and to do more to prevent the trafficking of human beings and illicit drugs over its borders," Bolton said.

The government must also do more to address infectious diseases and the country's severe HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The US ambassador praised the council's historic decision to put Myanmar -- which the US insists on calling by its previous name Burma -- on the Security Council agenda on Sept. 15.

The move means the council can give greater scrutiny to the government and the plight of the South Asian nation's people by asking for briefings by UN officials and adopting various resolutions.

Washington faces an uphill struggle, however, in getting the council to take tough action against Myanmar's government.

China has strongly opposed putting the country on the agenda, as did Russia.

Even Britain said it opposes sanctions because they haven't worked.

"I'm not looking, to be honest, for a punitive resolution at this stage," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said.

"I'd like to see a concerted effort to implement freedoms, rights, to tackle poverty, to start implementing the Millennium Development Goals and to call on all of us to actually work with the government of Myanmar to those ends," he added.

A briefing on Friday by Gambari was the first council action since the vote to put Myanmar on the agenda.

In an apparent sign of its opposition, China sent a low-level diplomat rather than one of its ambassadors to the closed-door session.

In the briefing, Gambari stressed that Myanmar was just emerging from long periods of armed conflict and remained one of the world's poorest countries, despite its great potential.

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