Divided UN Security Council Puts Focus on Myanmar

Fri Sep 15, 2006 6:49pm ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A divided U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to add Myanmar to its formal list of global hot spots, deeming the Asian country's junta government a threat to international peace and security.

Ten nations, including the United States, voted in favor of adding Myanmar, formerly Burma, to the council agenda, while China, Russia, Qatar and the Democratic Republic of Congo voted against it. Tanzania abstained.

The vote cleared the way for the United States to follow through on a promised push for a resolution on human rights in the isolated Southeast Asian nation, but U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters none was immediately planned.

"It's fundamentally important that the regime in Burma recognize that it's the other member governments of the U.N., other nations of the world, that are concerned about their practices," Bolton said.

The military has run Myanmar since 1962, ignoring a 1990 landslide election victory by the National League for Democracy party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest since May 2003. Many of her supporters have been jailed.

Bolton said Myanmar also deserved attention due to its illegal drugs trade, high AIDS rates and human rights record.

But Chinese U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said it was "preposterous" とんでもない to argue any nation threatened international peace and security simply because it faced those problems.

"Everyone thinks that the Security Council is a panacea, that it could do everything, but I think that is not the case," Wang told reporters after the vote.

One surprise vote was Japan, which sided with the United States after previously arguing that Myanmar was an Asian problem that did not require council intervention.

On the procedural vote, only nine of the council's 15 votes were required to get Myanmar on the agenda, with the five permanent members -- the United States, China, France, Britain and Russia -- unable to use their veto.

However, they would be able to do so on any subsequent resolution.

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