[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 03:22 GMT 04:22 UK
UN Security Council rebukes Burma
Burmese soldiers
Burmese soldiers have been on the streets since the crackdown
The UN Security Council has adopted a statement deploring Burma's military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The agreement came after China lifted its objections to a statement first drafted by the US, UK and France.

It represents the first time the 15-nation body has taken any formal action over Burma.

The move indicates a shift of position by China, which had previously used its veto to stop the council from criticising Burma's military junta.

The statement "strongly deplores the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators" in Burma and calls on the junta and all other parties "to work together toward a de-escalation of the situation and a peaceful solution".

It also calls for the early release of "all political prisoners and remaining detainees", urging the junta to prepare for a "genuine dialogue" with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The non-binding statement - which, unlike a resolution, requires the consent of all 15 council members to be adopted - was issued by Ghana's UN Ambassador Leslie Christian, the council's president.

Burma's top general, Than Shwe (file image)
The statement urged Burma's leaders to talk to the opposition
US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said the statement was an important achievement.

"Our expectation is that this statement will have... a positive impact on the situation on the ground in terms of government behaviour and if it doesn't we're committed to coming back," he said.

Dr Thaung Htun, the UN representative for Burma's government-in-exile, said it sent a clear message to the generals to end violence and begin political dialogue.

"But the Security Council should closely monitor the situation and then evaluate how the military respond to the statement," he warned.

Gambari to return

Meanwhile, the UN said special envoy Ibrahim Gambari would tour Asia this weekend in a trip expected to culminate in his second visit to Burma since the demonstrations erupted last month.

Mr Gambari returned from a four-day visit to the country last week and had not been expected to return until mid-November.

Monks demonstrating in Rangoon, 25/10
Buddhist monks spearheaded the pro-democracy protests
His visit is aimed at kick-starting a political dialogue and securing the release of political detainees.

Rangoon says 10 people were killed and 2,100 arrested during last month's demonstrations, many of which were led by Buddhist monks.

But foreign diplomats and analysts fear both figures could be far higher.

Dissidents and human rights groups have long accused Burma's regime of torturing political prisoners.

The government adamantly rejects all allegations of torture, and Burma's state-run media argue that more than half of those arrested during the protests have since been released.

However, there has been little news about several hundred people still believed to be in detention.

Earlier on Thursday, a pro-democracy activist arrested during the crackdown was reported as having died in custody.

Win Shwe, 42, a member of the National League for Democracy, died "as a result of torture during interrogation", the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said.

Britain's ambassador to the UN talks about the negotiations

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific