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US Presses for Security Council Briefing on Burma

The United States is pressing for United Nations Under Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari to brief the Security Council about his visit to Burma last week. During the visit, Gambari was allowed a brief meeting with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters after a Security Council meeting Monday that there was no opposition to his request for a briefing.

He said the U.S. is particularly interested in hearing about the meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. Gambari also met with the leader of Burma's ruling junta, General Than Shwe, during his three-day visit.

Bolton said the U.S. is not ruling out "additional steps" against Burma. He did not elaborate.

In the meantime, a U.S. State Department official says Burma is the "source of ills" that threaten the entire region of Southeast Asia.

Speaking to an audience at the Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore Monday, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill said that drugs, cross-border migration and infectious diseases have resulted from the policies of the ruling Burmese military.

Mr. Hill said the only long-term solution to Burma's problems is real political reform that leads to good governance.

He said U.S. policy on Burma will not change unless Burma's government gives some indication it is interested in joining the international community. He said the U.S. has very little economic leverage in Burma because the level of investment by U.S. companies is small.

Mr. Hill said the U.S. is working actively with other Asian countries to effect change in Burma, but he said he would like to see more effort by the Chinese to work with Washington.