Myanmar says "deeply regrets" UN council statement

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YANGON, Oct 12 (Reuters) Myanmar's military junta said on Friday it ''deeply regrets'' a UN Security Council statement deploring the regime's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters last month.

State-owned MRTV said the Council's statement -- which also called for the release of political prisoners and detained protesters and a ''genuine dialogue'' with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- did not reflect the peoples' desire.

''We deeply regret that the chairman of the UN Security Council has issued a statement on Myanmar although Myanmar's situation does not affect regional and international peace and security,'' the state-owned broadcaster said.

It said Myanmar, under military rule since 1962, would follow its own seven-step ''roadmap to democracy'', although the junta had set no timetable. Western critics call the roadmap a sham to entrench military rule.

Yesterday's statement was the first time the Council has 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 Council veto to block criticism of the country's rulers.

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

In a statement, it said the Security Council's move was meant to support mediation efforts by the UN secretary general and his special adviser and ''provide constructive help to all parties in Myanmar to realise domestic reconciliation through dialogue and promote democracy and development''.

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.

Myanmar authorities have said 10 people were killed, but Western governments say the toll is likely much higher.

Washington urged Gambari to visit Burma as soon as possible to meet with the government and Suu Kyi ''so that Burma can move toward a peaceful transition to democracy''.

''We would like to see adviser Gambari visit Burma before he visits other regional capitals,'' White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters.

REUTERS SYU BST2321

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