US says troubled by reports of Myanmar protest deaths

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NEW YORK, Sep 26 (Reuters) The United States said today it was ''very troubled'' about the actions of Myanmar's military government if reports of people killed in anti-junta protests were true.

The Bush administration was responding to word from hospital and monastery sources that two monks and a civilian had been killed, as Myanmar security forces tried to quell the biggest anti-junta protests in 20 years.

''If these stories are accurate, the US is very troubled that the regime would treat the Burmese people this way,'' White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said as President George W Bush pressed his foreign policy agenda in New York on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session.

''We call on the junta to proceed in a peaceful transition to democracy,'' Johndroe added.

Bush used his annual General Assembly speech on Tuesday to announce new US sanctions against the Myanmar government and urged the United Nations and other countries to keep up pressure on the country's military rulers.

Seething crowds of Buddhist monks and civilians filled the streets of Myanmar's main city today, defying warning shots, tear gas and baton charges.

In Washington, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said reports indicated the government of Myanmar had reacted with ''typical brutality.'' ''As I have said before to the regime in Burma, we are watching you. To the people of Burma, we stand with you,'' he said on the Senate floor.

Sen John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Bush's new sanctions were ''a step in the right direction, but it will not solve the problem, and it is not enough.'' REUTERS JK RAI2023

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