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UN Security Council Considers Statement Condemning Burma for Repression

Key Western powers on the U.N. Security Council circulated a draft statement late Friday condemning repression by Burma's military government, and demanding the release of political prisoners.

Drafted by the United States, Britain and France, the statement condemned what it called the "violent repression" of peaceful demonstrations, and it demanded the government begin a dialogue with the opposition.

The non-binding statement, which requires consensus by all 15 Security Council members to be adopted, was circulated after the Council heard a briefing by U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari on his recent four-day mission to Burma.

Gambari demanded that Burma immediately release all political prisoners, including those detained during the recent pro-democracy protests.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Friday, Washington will introduce a resolution imposing sanctions such as an arms embargo if the Burmese government does not respond appropriately to the international community's concerns.

China opposed pressuring Burma, saying that could lead to mistrust and confrontation, while Burma's Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe said no action by the Security Council is warranted.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told VOA that Washington wants to see a free and prosperous Burma where people can march in the streets and say what they want without being persecuted.

Burmese state media acknowledged Friday that hundreds of monks were detained during the crackdown, but it said all but 109 have been released. The announcement followed Thursday's report that authorities arrested more than 2,000 people during the past week.

Also Friday, a press freedom group called on Burma to release all detained journalists, including six arrested during last week's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Reporters Without Borders said at least 11 journalists are currently in Burmese jails. Japanese reporter Kenji Nagai was shot and killed while covering the rallies in Rangoon.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.