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2009-05-22_Security Council wants Myanmar's Suu Kyi released

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer - Fri May 22, 3:29 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council on Friday called for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar including Aung San Suu Kyi and expressed concern at the "political impact" of the pro-democracy leader's trial.

A press statement approved by all 15 council members reiterated the need for Myanmar's military leaders "to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue" with Suu Kyi and other opposition and minority groups "to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation."

The United States had initially urged the council to adopt a stronger presidential statement, which becomes part of the council's official record. But diplomats said it was downgraded to a press statement to get approval from China and Russia, which have close ties to Myanmar's military government.

The statement was issued as a court in Myanmar accepted the charge that Suu Kyi violated the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam to and entered her lakeside home earlier this month. She has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years, and the court's decision means that her trial will likely proceed to a verdict that could see her jailed for up to five years.

Earlier Friday, the ruling junta alleged that anti-government forces engineered the visit to Suu Kyi's house to embarrass the regime and aggravate its relations with the West. Suu Kyi, two women who live with her and the American have all pleaded innocent.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962. The current junta seized power in 1988 and refused to honor the results of a 1990 general election won by Suu Kyi's party. If she is imprisoned as a result of the current trial, she will be out of the government's way during upcoming elections in 2010.

In the press statement, "the members of the Security Council express their concern about the political impact of recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

Council members reiterated the importance of their first-ever statement on Myanmar in October 2007 and a second presidential statement in May 2008 "and, in this regard, reiterate the importance of the release of all political prisoners." Their statement did not single out Suu Kyi.

But Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers said "the reiteration of our call for the release of all political prisoners is very pointed when the most prominent of those political prisoners is standing in the dock on, frankly, charges which stand no credibility."

U.S. deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said the council has now added its voice to those of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other leaders from the region and elsewhere.

So far, however, Myanmar's government has ignored all appeals for Suu Kyi's release.

"We will continue speaking out to get that impact that we need," DiCarlo said. "We know Rome wasn't built in a day and one statement isn't necessarily going to do the trick but we will continue to do so."

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Created on ... June 27, 2009