China blocks Security Council talks on Burma

Oct 6, 2009 (DVB), China has used the threat of dialogue over Afghan civilian casualties to block the inclusion of Burma at recent Security Council talks, a spokesperson for the French ambassador to the UN said.

After negotiations between China and NATO powers, including Britain, France and the United States, neither issue was discussed.

"[China was] blocking the inclusion of Burma as a footnote in the programme of work," said the spokesperson for the French ambassador to the UN, Stephane Crouzat. "It was an obvious attempt to thwart the footnote."

The issue of civilian deaths in Afghanistan has grown in controversy, with Afghan politicians complaining to NATO forces about excessive casualties.

Crouzat said however that the French were "very interested" in talking about civilian deaths, but that "the way the Chinese put it was a tactical position to block the inclusion of Burma".

Dr Naing Aung, chairperson of the Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB), said the derailment of talks was down to political conflict.

"It is very bad as the [Security Council] cannot move on to save the suffering of innocent people around the world due to their conflict of interest and power balancing," he said. "That is why we Burmese used to say the UN is united in nothing for emergency matters".

Crouzat said however that "if a majority of Security Council members wished to include Burma in the discussions of the Security Council in October it will happen".

"In all probability there will be a meeting discussing Burma in October". He added however that any member could "veto any resolution".

China famously vetoed a Security Council resolution in January 2007 to pressure Burma's ruling junta to end human rights abuses against its citizens.

The following month, China signed a multi-billion dollar deal with the junta to construct pipelines connecting Burma's vast offshore gas reserves to China's southern Yunnan province.

China was last week party to a UN Human Rights Council statement that called on Burma to release all political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Reporting by Joseph Allchin

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