China calls on Myanmar to solve its own problems

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BEIJING, Oct 12 (Reuters) The UN condemnation of the brutal crackdown on protests in Myanmar was intended to help the junta-ruled country solve its own problems, China said on Friday, giving its own cautious interpretation of the statement.

China joined Western powers to deplore Myanmar's crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations and call for political dialogue there in yesterday's statement by the U.N. Security Council.

The Council urged the junta that has ruled Myanmar for 45 years to free political prisoners and detained protesters and open a ''genuine dialogue'' with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

It was the first time the Council had taken official action on Myanmar -- also known by its former name, Burma -- and marked a shift by China, a neighbour and key trading partner of Myanmar that had previously used its Security Council veto to block criticism of the country's rulers.

But yesterday, China's Foreign Ministry was quick to signal that the move did not mean that it would stomach harsher action against the Southeast Asian nation.

The statement was intended ''to support the mediation efforts of the United Nations Secretary General and his special adviser Ibrahim Gambari, and provide constructive help to all parties in Myanmar to realise domestic reconciliation through dialogue and promote democracy and development,'' spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement on the ministry's Web site (www.fmprc.gov.cn).

The UN special envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, is due to leave over the weekend for an Asian tour expected to culminate in his second visit to Myanmar since the junta cracked down on the Buddhist monk-led demonstrations last month.

In dealing with Burma and other governments spurned by the West -- including Sudan and Iran -- Beijing has often sought to accommodate some Western pressure for action while keeping open its own ties to those countries, which are often important trade partners and diplomatic allies.

Liu said Myanmar's problems needed to be solved through domestic means.

''In the end, the Myanmar issue depends on the efforts of the Myanmar people and government themselves to reach an appropriate solution through consultation,'' he said.

Reuters PD GC1520

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