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U.N. council rejects Myanmar resolution

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A U.S.-British sponsored resolution on Myanmar, approved by nine members of the U.N. Security Council, has been defeated by vetoes from China and Russia.

Beijing and Moscow were joined by South Africa in casting negative votes Friday. Congo, Indonesia and Qatar abstained.

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But for the permanent member vetoes panel the measure would have passed the 15 member panel. The opposition thought it not a matter for the council to take up.

The resolution called on the Southeast Asian nation to "cease military attacks against civilians in ethnic minority regions ... put an end to the associated human rights and humanitarian law violations ... including widespread rape and other forms of sexual violence" and to "permit international humanitarian organizations to operate without restrictions."

It urged Myanmar, the former Burma, to cooperate with the International Labor Organization to eradicate forced labor, to begin a political dialogue leading to "a genuine democratic transition," allow freedom of expression and release Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy and "all political prisoners."

The measure also endorsed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's "good offices" efforts to help the people of Myanmar.

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Ambassador Alejandro Wolfe of the United States, said, "We had a resolution that regrettably did not pass that enjoyed the support of the majority of the council?"

While Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of Britain pointed out council members disagreed on jurisdiction or "competence," he asked, "is this a valid issue for decision by the Security Council? The British Government believes that the situation in Burma/Myanmar represents a threat to regional peace and security and to the security of the Burmese people. We therefore voted for a draft resolution which we believe to be within the responsibilities of this council."

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