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UN Security Council Urges Burma to Release All Political Prisoners

The U.N. Security Council has called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and expressed its concern over her recent trial.

In a unanimous statement, the 15-council members expressed their concern about the "political impact" of the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi charging her with violating the terms of her house arrest.

The council also repeated its call for the release of all political prisoners in Burma - which is also known as Myanmar. The council also called on Burma's military regime to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with all concerned parties and ethnic groups to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation.

British Ambassador John Sawers said it is "inconceivable" that Aung San Suu Kyi's trial and imprisonment could in anyway contribute to achieving a genuine national reconciliation.

"It is inconceivable that the trial and imprisonment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi could in anyway contribute to that. She is the most prominent of the opposition leaders in Myanmar and she heads the party which won the only credible elections in recent memory in Myanmar, and the regime needs to come to terms with that. They are failing to do so," he said.

He said the council's unanimous call for the release of all political prisoners is very pointed, especially when the most prominent of all those prisoners - Aung San Suu Kyi - is on trial on charges which he said "stand no credibility."

U.S. envoy Rosemary DiCarlo said the council needed to speak with one voice on this issue and it did, saying countries which do not normally want to comment on this issue did. Russia and China are two prominent council members that are close to Burma's leadership and often avoid criticizing it.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty to charges that she violated the terms of her house arrest.

The charges stem from an incident earlier this month in which an American man swam to her lakeside residence and stayed there for two days. Her lawyers say she asked him to leave, but that he was too exhausted and ill to swim back.

Critics say Burma's military leaders want to keep the pro-democracy leader in detention and away from next year's elections.

The Nobel Prize laureate has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years. With these new charges she could face another five-year detention term.