U.S. keeping tabs on Myanmar violence

Aug. 9, 2012 at 3:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- All parties to violence in Myanmar are called on to uphold the basic principles of religious tolerance, a U.S. State Department official said.

Washington in July dispatched Farah Pandith, special envoy to Muslim communities, to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to meet with leaders from religious and ethnic groups in the region.

"She discussed areas for cooperation with Muslim communities in Burma, including education, rule of law, and economic opportunity, with a particular focus on young people," the State Department said in a briefing on her visit.

Human Rights Watch, in a report last week, said authorities in Myanmar were skirting security obligations with their response to an outbreak of violence in Rakhine state in June. At least 78 people have died in the regional conflict pitting Muslims against Buddhists.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, said at the conclusion of a 6-day visit to the country that the situation in Rakhine state was serious.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Washington was keeping a close eye on sectarian tensions in Rakhine state.

"We continue to urge all parties to exercise restraint, to refrain from further violence, and to uphold principles of nondiscrimination, tolerance, and religious freedom," he said during his regular press briefing.

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