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Burma Agrees to Accept UN Envoy Amid Condemnation for Violent Crackdown


Burma has agreed to accept a special envoy from the United Nations as leaders around the world call on the military government to halt its violent crackdown on protesters in Rangoon.

The United Nations Secretary General's office said Thursday that Burma has agreed to allow special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to visit the country. President Bush and Southeast Asian leaders urged Burma to allow Gambari full access to all of the relevant parties.

In a statement read Thursday by White House press secretary Dana Perino, Mr. Bush also urged the Burmese government not to use force and not to stand in the way of its people's desire for freedom. Mr. Bush also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi today to urge China to pressure Burma to end the crackdown.

The U.S. government also announced it was imposing sanctions against 14 senior Burmese government officials.

Southeast Asian foreign ministers meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York told member state Burma to immediately cease using violence against demonstrators.

Japan says it will lodge its own protest after a Japanese video journalist was killed by a stray bullet while covering today's demonstrations in Rangoon. Japan's chief cabinet secretary Nobutaka Machimura condemned the Burmese government's actions and said Japan would seek clarification over the circumstances of 50-year-old Kenji Nagai's death.

Burmese dissidents and local members of the public Thursday demonstrated solidarity with marchers in Rangoon by holding protests in Thailand along the Burmese border and at Burmese embassies around the world.

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

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

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters Thursday 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.

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