Friday, 25 July 2008

Cooperate with UN or face more pressure: US tells Myanmar

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The United States warned Myanmar's military rulers Thursday that they must cooperate with UN mediator Ibrahim Gambari or face increased pressure from the Security Council.

US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters after closed-door consultations with Gambari that the 15-member council expected "concrete results" from the UN troubleshooter's visit to Myanmar next month.

"My message to the regime is to take advantage of Mr. Gambari's visit," the US envoy said. "Absent political progress, we see the potential for increased political instability and the council cannot remain indifferent to that."

He added that the ruling junta must "turn a new page" and agree to a political roadmap for elections in 2010 as well as to the release of political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"If there is not progress on these issues ... we would have to look at other measures, bringing more pressure to bear on the regime," Khalilzad said.

"Things have gone backwards in Burma (Myanmar) over the last six months," British Ambassador John Sawers said ahead of the council meeting.

"We're in a difficult situation in the sense that the Burmese government has not responded to the demands of the international community," he added.

Vietnam's UN Ambassador Le Luong Minh, the council chair this month, reaffirmed the 15-member body's support for Gambari's mission, set for mid-August, and said members wished him "success in his mission."

Gambari's return visit had to be postponed after Cyclone Nargis struck the country in May, leaving at least 138,000 missing or dead.

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