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UN Security Council Urges Restraint Against Burmese Protesters


The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting late Wednesday on the Burmese government's violent response to peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in that country. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

U.N. Security Council Chairman Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert of France told reporters following the closed-door session that U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari briefed them on the latetest developments in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.

"Members of the Council have expressed their concern vis-à-vis the situation and have urged restraint, especially from the government of Myanmar. In this context, they have expressed their strong support and through the mission of good offices of the secretary-general they welcome the decision by the secretary-general to urgently dispatch his special envoy to the region, and underlined the importance that Mr. Gambari be received by the authorities of Myanmar as soon as possible," he said.

Gambari was to leave for the region immediately, following reports that security forces in Rangoon had opened fire on Buddhist monks and other pro-democracy demonstrators for the first time in a month of anti-government protests.

During his address Tuesday during the annual General Assembly debate, President Bush announced new and tighter economic sanctions against Burma's military rulers and he encouraged other nations to follow suit.

Asked Wednesday whether Beijing would support sanctions, China's U.N. envoy Wang Guangya said he does not think such a measure would be helpful. "The most important thing now is to see that they restore stability and also the important thing we want to see the secretary-general's special advisor be there, to pay the visit, as soon as possible. We believe that sanctions are not helpful for the situation down there," he said.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has warned that the regime's violent response to the peaceful protests can only undermine the prospects for peace, prosperity and stability in Burma.

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