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US Warns Of Sanctions If Burma Does Not Cooperate With International Community

The United States warned Friday it will propose a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Burma, if the military government does not cooperate with the international community. But Burma's U.N. ambassador told the Security Council, sanctions are not warranted. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports.

U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Security Council on his just completed four-day visit to Burma, where he met with leaders in the military government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gambari told the Council, continuing and disturbing reports of abuses being committed by security forces, including arbitrary arrests, beatings, disappearances and raids on private homes, are of great concern to the international community.

Gambari, describing the status quo ante as unacceptable and unrealistic, and warned of serious international repercussions. "The crisis occurred. I think it took them by surprise, and the reaction of the international community was very, very clear, and the message I was instructed to convey to the authorities was very strong. So, that is something that they have to take into consideration. Also, the General (Swe, head of the government) has now announced that he is willing to have a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, although with some conditions, but that could very well produce an opening," he said.

In an interview with VOA, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said such a dialogue should be immediate and unconditional. He said Burma must immediately end the crackdown, release detained citizens and political prisoners and withdraw troops for the streets, or face consequences.

"We will consider stronger measures, including sanctions, against the regime. The United States will introduce a resolution in the Security Council if the regime does not move along the lines that we have discussed," he said.

Khalilzad said the military government must start an unconditional dialogue, leading to a transition to democracy. "I want to speak to the people of Burma, that the United States stands with them, and we will work for the issues that I have described, and will be relentless in our pursuit of those objectives, and will engage others in the region, in the Security Council, to develop the kind of coalition to achieve the results that we have discussed today," he said.

Khalilzad says the future of Burma affects the future peace and stability of the region.

Burma's U.N. ambassador, Kyaw Tint Swe, says Burma does not pose a threat to the region. "The situation in Myanmar is not -- and I repeat not -- a threat to regional and international peace and security. No Security Council action is warranted with regard to situation in Myanmar. I would, therefore, like to call on the Security Council to refrain from any action that would be detrimental to the good offices rule of the Secretary General, mandated by the General Assembly. On our part, we will continue to cooperate with the United Nations," he said.

Special envoy Gambari is scheduled to visit Burma again in mid-November, but the United States and other Council members are pushing for an earlier return without any limitations on his access.