UN council raps Burma for lack of reform
Bangkok Post (17 Jan 2008)
New York (dpa) – The UN Security Council on Thursday decried Burma’s “slow rate” of progress to bring democratic reform to the country and called on the military government to hold new talks with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari.
Gambari is set to visit China and India later this month – and also Burma, but only if its military leaders agree to receive him.
It will be Gambari’s fourth visit to Asia since last year to discuss the situation in Burma.
Gambari met with the 15-nation council to discuss his diplomatic efforts, which began after the military government in Myanmar crushed pro-democracy demonstrations in August. China had helped Gambari twice obtain visas to Burma.
The council said it “regretted the slow rate of progress so far towards meeting the objectives,” which were set out after an earlier meeting in October. The council then called for democratic reform, national reconciliation and release of political prisoners, including the head of the opposition National League of Democracy party, Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Council members underscored the importance of making further progress, noting that an early visit to Myanmar by Mr Gambari could help facilitate this,” the statement after Thursday’s meeting said. The UN uses the military regime’s name for Burma.
Gambari told reporters his diplomatic troubleshooting was aimed at working out a comprehensive solution to the crisis, which in addition to democratic reform, includes combatting drug trafficking, child soldiers and ethnic minorities. He said the diplomatic efforts demanded patience and perseverance.
Gambari urged council members to unite in supporting UN efforts to bring democracy to Burma, one of the world’s poorest nations. He suggested that some members showed “nuance” in their support of those efforts.
US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said following the closed-door discussion by the council that Gambari needs “help” in his efforts in order to achieve progress.
He called on governments to increase pressure on Burma, without specifying measures, while Gambari is holding talks to improve the situation in the country.