China should exert its influence on Burma: EU envoy

Dec 20, 2007 (AFP), A top European envoy urged China on Thursday to exert its influence on Burma, while calling on the isolated nation’s military junta to end the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

EU envoy to Burma Piero Fassino said that he discussed with Chinese officials ways to advance dialogue between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, following the quashing of democracy protests in Myanmar in September.

"Any sign from the Burmese authorities to progress on this path will be welcome (and) the Chinese intervention is fundamental," Fassino told journalists at the end of a three-day trip to China.

"One positive sign will be the lifting of the house arrest on Aung San Suu Kyi and the release of important political prisoners," he said.

China is one of Burma’s closest political allies and biggest suppliers of arms.

The September demonstrations led by Buddhist monks were crushed by the military government in what was widely seen as the biggest threat to the junta’s rule in 20 years.

The government’s official toll is 10 dead, including a Japanese journalist, but a UN investigator said 31 people had been killed with 74 missing.

Amnesty International estimates that of the thousands arrested, 700 remain behind bars along with 1,150 political prisoners already in detention.

In recent weeks Fassino has met officials of every Asian nation with influence or ties with the isolated country and is awaiting approval from Rangoon for a visit to Burma.

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