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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 December 2005, 00:35 GMT
UN stages rare Burma discussion
By Susannah Price
BBC correspondent at the United Nations

Aung San Suu Kyi
Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest
The United Nations Security Council has held a rare discussion of Burma.

Council members heard a briefing from a senior UN official and held talks behind closed doors.

The UK ambassador to the UN said that despite disagreement over whether Burma was a threat to peace and security, all showed concern about the situation.

Burma is not on the Security Council agenda and cannot be discussed in regular meetings, or be the subject of resolutions.

Burma has managed to stay off the UN Security Council's agenda but it did not stop this rare discussion of the Burmese government's record.

The under-secretary general for political affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, told council members in a closed meeting that despite hopes of reform the past year had proven very disappointing.

More than 1,000 political prisoners are still detained, the council heard.

'Not forgotten'

Only last month the house arrest of the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was extended, and the UN special envoy has not been allowed to visit for nearly two years.

John Bolton
US envoy John Bolton was one of those who called the debate
Mr Gambari also spoke about the rapid rise of Aids, the malnourishment of children, limited health care and inadequate education opportunities.

The UN secretary general, who attended the meeting, said afterwards the Security Council should now be given a bit of time to see how things progressed.

Denmark's ambassador to the UN, Ellen Margrethe Loj, said the briefing was a clear signal that the world had not forgotten the suffering of Burma.

The United States and the United Kingdom, among others, have argued that Burma should be taken up by the Security Council because drugs trafficking and refugees make it a threat to international peace and security.

But other countries say its record is an internal issue.

The British ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, said it was up to everyone to try to influence Burma's government to move forward.

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