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France Urges China to Use Influence with Burma

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has urged China to use its influence with Burma's military government to help end the political and social turmoil in the Southeast Asian country.

Speaking with the French press agency (AFP) Wednesday in Thailand ahead of a visit to Beijing, Kouchner said China is pivotal to strengthening United Nations efforts to bring about reform in Burma. He said China must push the military junta in Rangoon to open real dialogue with the democratic opposition.

China -- a major supplier of weapons to Burma -- has been criticized by some diplomats for not taking a tougher stand toward Burma's military leaders after the September crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Kouchner said it was largely due to Beijing's influence that U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari was able to travel to Burma at the end of last month.

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