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UN ‘deplores’ Myanmar crackdown

United Nations, Oct. 11 (AP): The UN Security Council said today it “strongly deplores” the violent crackdown on protesters by Myanmar’s military rulers and called for a “genuine dialogue” between the government and the pro-democracy opposition.

A compromise statement approved by all 15 council members — including close Myanmar ally China — emphasised “the importance of the early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees”.

The council statement was read at a formal meeting shortly after the UN announced that secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is sending the UN envoy to Myanmar back to the region next week for consultations with key governments on international efforts to promote talks between the government and the Opposition.

The US, Britain and France proposed a stronger text that would have condemned the violence and called for the immediate release of the political prisoners and detainees, singling out the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But the text was watered down to get approval from China, which had proposed a much weaker text.

In the statement, “the Security Council stresses the need for the government of Myanmar to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned parties and ethnic groups in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the direct support of the UN.”

It welcomed the government’s “public commitment to work with the UN and the appointment of a liaison officer” to Suu Kyi.

“The Security Council stresses the importance that such commitments are followed by action,” the statement said.

“It acknowledges that the government of Myanmar has invited Gambari to Myanmar. It underscores its support for his return as early as possible, in order to facilitate concrete actions and tangible results.”

Ban sent Gambari to Myanmar after troops quashed protests initially led by students and then by Buddhist monks in late September. He returned last week and told the Security Council he was concerned over reports of a continuing crackdown on protesters. He urged Myanmar’s leaders “to make the bold choices” to demonstrate its commitment to democracy and national reconciliation and said he was “cautiously encouraged” that the country’s military ruler, Senior General Than Shwe, would meet Suu Kyi.

Gambari stressed that he and Ban have called for talks without any preconditions to overcome “the high level of mistrust” between Than Shwe and Suu Kyi.

They include giving up her calls for confronting the government and for imposing sanctions against it, Myanmar state media said. Gambari met Suu Kyi twice and Than Shwe once .

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