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US Pushes UN Security Council to Take Up Burma


The United States is formally asking the UN Security Council to place Burma on its permanent agenda as a threat to international peace and security.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton Friday submitted a formal request to have Burma included on the Security Council agenda.

Twice before in the past year, Bolton has brought the Council's attention to Burma's human rights violation and internal repression. But each time, efforts to have the issue placed on the Council's permanent agenda have been rebuffed by opposition from Russia, China, and other Asian countries.

This time, Bolton is confident he has sufficient support to force a formal vote on the matter.

"We obviously feel at this point that we will prevail and that Burma will be added, "he said. "It's possible that we would lose. There's no question about that. This is a political matter, but we think it's important that now states declare where they stand on the question."

The United States has been a vocal critic of Burma, and has attempted to pressure the military junta in Rangoon to release detained political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, 61. The Nobel peace laureate has been held at her Rangoon home since May, 2003, and has spent more than 10 of the last 17 years in detention.

Bolton told reporters Friday he has no firm plans for a Security Council resolution on Burma. But he said a strong case can be made that the country constitutes a threat to regional peace and security.

"Looking at the Burmese government's involvement in international drug trafficking, the refugee flows out of Burma and in the region that it's activities have caused, it's violations of human rights, and the consequences that have had international implications, and a range of other activities, including some of its military policies. So all of those are there. We think it's time to formally put it on the agenda, and that's why we're proceeding," he added.

President Bush last month signed a law renewing economic sanctions against the Burmese government for three more years. Washington halted investments to Burma in 1997, and banned financial transactions and imports in 2003.

International human rights groups have repeatedly called on the Security Council to act in response to Burma's deteriorating rights conditions. The United Nations operates a resettlement program for thousands of ethnic Karen in eastern Burma who have fled the country's military dictatorship.

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