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US Demands Burma's Military Government Immediately Halt Violent Crackdown


The United States has demanded that Burma's military government immediately halt its violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

A White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, Thursday said the Burmese government should not stand in the way of its people's desire for freedom. His made the comments as a second day of the military's violent crackdown on demonstrators in Rangoon drew condemnation from leaders around the world.

The European Parliament passed a resolution Thursday condemning the brutal reaction of Burmese authorities and proposing new targeted sanctions.

Singapore, which currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, called on the Burmese military to exercise utmost restraint and accept a United Nations initiative to defuse the situation.

Following calls from the United States, Australia and other countries to use its influence, China Thursday issued its first call for restraint.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, told reporters that Beijing is very concerned about the situation in neighboring Burma. She said China hopes all parties in Burma properly handle the situation and exercise restraint.

China has close economic relations with mineral-rich Burma and has provided its military with weapons.

The vice president of the European Parliament, Edward McMillan-Scott, told reporters the international community should consider boycotting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games if China does nothing to stop the violence in Burma. He said the Olympics are the only lever the world has to use with China, which he called Burma's puppet master.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council urged Burma's military government to show restraint toward peaceful protesters and allow a visit by U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

Separately this week, the United States announced new sanctions against Burma's generals, their supporters and families.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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