UN Myanmar envoy ends China talks with no new pressure

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Beijing, Oct 25: The United Nations envoy on Myanmar concluded talks with China today, but there was no indication Beijing had agreed to exert tougher pressure on the troubled Southeast Asian junta.

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has been visiting Asia to press neighbors -- especially India and China -- to take a tougher line against Myanmar's military government, which harshly quelled pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist clergy.

Earlier this month, US President George W Bush also urged Beijing and New Delhi to step up pressure and follow Washington's example of applying sanctions.

But China is wary of using sanctions against any country and has major economic and strategic stakes in Myanmar, as does India. After meetings with Gambari, Chinese diplomats gave no public sign of ramping up pressure, instead repeating their argument that talk, not sanctions, is the best approach.

''The Myanmar issue, after all, has to be appropriately resolved by its own people and government through their own efforts of dialogue and consultation,'' State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan told Gambari today.

''The international community should provide constructive help for that end and should not only stick to imposing sanctions and pressure,'' Tang said in remarks carried by the Web site of the Chinese Foreign Ministry (www.fmprc.gov.cn).

He said China wanted to see a Myanmar of ''stability, development, democracy and reconciliation''.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Gambari, who did not speak to reporters in Beijing, that China would continue its efforts to help achieve a ''proper resolution'' in Myanmar.

China, the closest the isolated junta has to an ally, has expressed concern about the crackdown and helped bring about Gambari's visit to Myanmar earlier this month.

Beijing also joined Western powers to deplore Myanmar's crushing of the pro-democracy demonstrations in a statement by the UN Security Council.

But Beijing has stressed that the statement did not mean that it would stomach harsher action or legally binding UN resolutions against the Southeast Asian nation.

''Myanmar's problems have a complex historical background and practical causes, and they should be resolved by the government and people of Myanmar,'' Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei told Gambari on Wednesday, according to the Ministry Web site.

The Chinese official called for other nations to be ''objective and balanced'' over Myanmar, often called by its former name of Burma.

Before visiting China, Gambari was in India, which has also resisted wielding economic pressure against Myanmar, a country with energy resources coveted by both New Delhi and Beijing. Delhi has promised to help push Myanmar towards democracy but stopped short of committing to concrete action.


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