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Western Powers Circulate Softened UN Statement 'Deploring' Burma's Military Crackdown


The United States, France and Britain have circulated a statement to the U.N. Security Council that "strongly deplores" Burma's recent military crackdown of pro-democracy protesters.

Their revised draft statement does not condemn Burma's repression of the protesters, but it does demand a full account of those jailed, missing or killed.

China, a permanent member of the council with veto powers, pushed successfully for softer language than first drafted.

A spokeswoman, Michele Montas, for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, is expected to travel back to Burma some time before November.

Meanwhile, the United States issued a statement threatening further sanctions on Burma and calling for a full investigation into the death of an opposition member, Win Shwe, who died while in custody.

Burmese officials say the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters left 10 people dead. Dissidents put the number of fatalities at 200.

In related news, the Inter-Parliamentary Union is calling for the release of 26 members of parliament who are imprisoned in Burma. The rights group says about half of those jailed legislators were locked up during the recent demonstrations.

Separately, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has issued a report saying Burma has experienced an alarming upsurge in opium poppy cultivation, which threatens to undermine progress toward a drug-free Southeast Asia.

Officials blame this year's 29 percent increase in cultivation on the high price of opium, the involvement of criminal groups and the location of most poppy farms in Burma's insurgent-controlled South and East Shan states.

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

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