US urges India PM to get tough on Myanmar

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Washington, Oct 25: The 16 women members of the US Senate sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging his government to press neighbor Myanmar to end its crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners.

The letter to Dr Singh by the Senate Women's Caucus on Burma, which stressed shared US-Indian democratic values and responsibilities, also registered strong concern at Indian arms sales and oil dealings with the military regime in Yangon.

''As the world's largest democracy, India should use its influence to put pressure on the regime to stop the violence against pro-democracy activists, release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, and begin a true national dialogue on national reconciliation that will lead to a restoration of democratic government,'' said the letter sent yesterday.

Democracy leader Suu Kyi, a woman who marked 12 years in captivity yesterday, enjoys widespread bipartisan support in the United States, where first lady Laura Bush has taken a high-profile stance on the issue since early this year.

''We are concerned that recent actions by India, including high-level visits by members of your government to Burma, may be interpreted as implicitly supporting the military junta,'' said the caucus, which is led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Sen Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican.

Indian officials who hosted special UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari in New Delhi this week promised to help push Myanmar toward democracy but stopped short of committing to a tougher line against its military rulers.


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