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US Condemns Burmese Military, Imposes Sanctions

The United States is imposing sanctions against senior Burmese officials following a government crackdown on demonstrators in which nine people died and 11 were injured. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino read a statement from the president saying the world is watching Burma, and Americans stand in solidarity with the brave Burmese people.

"We feel admiration and compassion for the monks and peaceful protesters calling for democracy," said Dana Perino. "Every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under a brutal military regime like the one that has ruled Burma for too long."

Washington Thursday announced sanctions against 14 senior government officials, including the Minister of Defense, the Commander of the Army and the Acting Prime Minister.

The U.S. Treasury Department says all assets these individuals have within the jurisdiction of the United States are frozen and all Americans are prohibited from doing business with them.

At the White House, Perino says President Bush is calling on all nations that have influence with the military government to urge its leaders to stop using force against people peacefully expressing their desire for change.

"I urge the Burmese soldiers and police not to use force on their fellow citizens," Dana Perino read from President Bush's statement. "I call on those who embrace the values of human rights and freedom to support the legitimate demands of the Burmese people."

China is the Burmese government's biggest supporter, and the foreign ministry in Beijing says it is very concerned about the situation and hopes all parties exercise restraint.

President Bush met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the White House Thursday and urged China to use its influence to help bring about a peaceful transition to democracy in Burma.

Mr. Bush thanked China for helping to convince Burma to accept a visit Friday by UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari. The White House says Gambari must be allowed full access to all relevant parties including religious leaders, detainees and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

Elsewhere, the European Parliament condemned the brutal reaction of Burmese authorities and is proposing new targeted sanctions.