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UN Envoy Reports on Myanmar as China Opposes Action

The U.N. Security Council decided on Thursday to hear a U.N. envoy's report on Myanmar at a public meeting but China said it was opposed to any action by the 15-member body because the junta's crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners was an internal affair.

U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari met U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday after a four-day visit to Myanmar in which he secured the junta's agreement to meet pro-democracy figure Aung San Suu Kyi. But military leader Than Shwe set conditions for the talks to go ahead, such as renouncing any confrontation with the government.

Other speakers invited to address the council on Friday included Ban, a delegate from Myanmar, and one from Singapore, representing the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Myanmar.

Beijing's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters, "There are problems there in Myanmar but these problems still, we believe, are basically internal."

"No international-imposed solution can help the situation," Wang said. "We want the government there to handle this issue."

Both China and Russia say the Security Council's mandate is limited to threats to international peace and security and Myanmar does not fall into this category.

Roundups, Interrogations Continue Unabated

Western nations have urged sanctions against Myanmar, whose security forces continued on Thursday to round up and interrogate protesters after last week's huge demonstrations led by Buddhist monks against military rule.

China, which neighbors Myanmar and is one of the country's few allies and major trading partners, has called for restraint but opposes any U.N. Security Council resolution, maintaining Myanmar does not threaten the region or the world.

China and Russia in January vetoed a U.S.-drafted Security Council resolution that demanded an end to political repression and human rights violations on grounds that the Myanmar crisis was not a threat to international peace and security, the council's mandate.

Wang said China and its neighbors wanted to see the country "achieve stability, achieve democracy, achieve good governance, achieve a better way of life of its people."

He added: "The important thing is we have to express our concern in different ways to let the government down there understand that they have to handle the situation very carefully."

Wang said the best action the council could take was to support the efforts of Gambari, a U.N. undersecretary-general and former U.N. ambassador from Nigeria.

He said his preference had been to have a closed council meeting on Friday because Gambari could speak "more frankly."

As a compromise, private consultations will follow the public meeting.

In the first official remarks since Gambari's visit earlier this week, Than Shwe said he would hold direct talks with Suu Kyi if she publicly agreed to abandon her "obstructive measures" and support for sanctions as well "confrontational positions." He did not elaborate on how the Nobel laureate could meet the demands.

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