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Burma's Neighbors in SE Asia Express 'Revulsion' Over Crackdown


The Burmese military's violent crackdown on protesters has prompted a worldwide chorus of disapproval and condemnation.

Burma's neighbors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations spoke out the loudest, declaring their "revulsion" at the killings in Rangoon. In unusually blunt language, nine ASEAN foreign ministers are demanding that fellow member Burma immediately stop using violence against peaceful demonstrators.

In a statement issued Thursday at the United Nations, the southeast Asian officials said they are "appalled" by reports that automatic weapons were used against Buddhist monks and other protesters.

ASEAN's statement is striking because the 10-member group normally operates by consensus, and holds as a core principle noninterference in the affairs of any member nation.

Although Burma did not directly reply to the ASEAN message, its representatives in New York told the U.N. that a special envoy from the world body, Ibrahim Gambari, will be allowed to enter the country.

In a statement Thursday, President Bush said "every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under a brutal military regime" such as Burma's.

Mr. Bush and many other leaders have voiced the hope that Gambari will have full access to all parties in Burma.

Mr. Bush met in Washington with China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, urging China to press Burma to stop the violence.

The U.S. government also announced it is imposing sanctions on 14 senior Burmese government officials. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she spoke directly to Burmese officials Thursday, but she provided no details.

In Beijing's first statement about this week's events, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu said Thursday that China is very concerned about the situation, and hopes all parties in Burma handle the situation properly and exercise restraint.

China has close economic relations with mineral-rich Burma and has provided its military with weapons.

Japan is asking Burma to explain how a Japanese video journalist was fatally wounded during Thursday's demonstrations in Rangoon.

The European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the Burmese authorities' brutality, and proposing new targeted sanctions.

Burmese dissidents and Thai nationals demonstrated solidarity with marchers in Rangoon by holding protests at the Thai-Burmese border Thursday.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.