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UK, US and France urge support for Burma

Jan 25, 2008 (DVB), The UK, US and French foreign ministers issued a joint statement yesterday calling for urgent progress towards democracy in Burma and improved human rights.

The UK's David Miliband, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Bernard Kouchner of France signed the statement on Burma, which was released at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The ministers said that their decision to write about Burma reflected their countries' strong support for the Burmese people in their struggle for democracy.

"We have repeatedly made clear that the situation in Burma cannot continue, and that we remain totally committed to helping the people of Burma," the statement said.

"We cannot afford to forget. We must convince the Burmese regime to meet the demands of the international community and respect the basic rights of Burma’s people."

The three foreign ministers said that the Burmese government had met none of the demands of the UN Security Council.

The UNSC has called for the release of political prisoners, steps towards genuine dialogue, full cooperation with the UN and efforts to address human rights and humanitarian issues.

The statement also expressed concern that the Burmese regime's own roadmap for transition is open-ended and excludes key opposition figures.

The foreign ministers urged other countries to unite and show their support for the Burmese people.

"We call on all those attending the World Economic Forum to demonstrate that, while the regime may be indifferent to the suffering of the Burmese people, the world is not," the statement said.

"A unified call for genuine and peaceful political reconciliation and reform will be heard in Burma. We would not live up to our values if we ignored Burma’s plight."

The US deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, Scot Marciel, recently said the Burmese regime was leading the country "downhill on all fronts" and called for greater pressure on the junta.

But a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that sanctions against the Burmese regime would not be helpful, and instead urged "constructive assistance".

Reporting by DVB


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