[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
UN envoy condemns Burma arrests
UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrives in Bangkok on Sunday 14 October 2007
Mr Gambari aims to enlist support from Burma's neighbours
UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari has described as "extremely disturbing" new arrests in Burma, calling on the ruling junta to stop detaining democracy activists.

EU foreign ministers later agreed to broaden existing sanctions against the junta, to target Burma's key timber, metals and gem exports.

Several prominent Burmese student leaders were arrested over the weekend.

Mr Gambari said the detentions ran "counter to the spirit of mutual engagement" between the UN and Burma.

He was speaking in Thailand as EU foreign ministers gathered in Luxembourg to discuss tougher sanctions against the junta.

The UN envoy met Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram at the start of a six-nation Asian tour aimed at enlisting support from Burma's neighbours for tougher action against the Rangoon regime.

Mr Gambari is due to visit Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, India and China, before returning to Burma for a follow-up visit.

Earlier this month, he met senior junta officials as well as detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Asian trade

Burma's generals already face an EU travel ban and a freeze on assets.

The generals now face fresh embargoes on some of their more lucrative exports - including jade, rubies and teak.

We cannot forget ... the death and human rights abuses we know are still taking place
Gordon Brown
UK prime minister

However, European sanctions have had practically no impact on Burma, as more than 90% of the country's trade is with its Asian neighbours, BBC European affairs correspondent Oana Lungescu says.

The new measures will not prevent the French energy giant Total from doing business with the junta, though diplomats say that may come later.

Tougher sanctions

Ahead of the meeting in Luxembourg, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown led calls for tougher sanctions.

"We cannot forget the images on our television screens of monks and ordinary citizens in Burma protesting, nor the death and human rights abuses we know are still taking place," he said.

Monks beg for alms near Rangoon, Burma, on 12 October 2007
Monks led last month's violently suppressed street protests
Burma's security forces at the weekend rounded up three of the remaining leaders from last month's demonstrations, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

Last week, the UN Security Council condemned the generals' crackdown on the protests.

The regime said it "deeply regretted" the statement.

Burma says it arrested about 100 monks in recent weeks and that only 10 people died during its crackdown on protests, but correspondents say the true figures are probably much higher.

Scenes from last month's anti-government protests

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