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UN Envoy to Return to Asia Amid Continuing Burma Crisis


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is dispatching special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Asia for consultations with regional governments amid the continuing tensions in Burma.

A UN statement said Gambari will begin his talks in Thailand on Monday and go on to Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China and Japan. It said he will make the trip "with a view to returning" to Burma shortly thereafter.

Gambari returned from a four-day visit to Burma last week.

UN diplomats say a Security Council statement that "strongly deplores" Burma's recent military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters is almost complete.

Council members have sent the non-binding draft statement back to their respective capitals for review and are expected to meet again today in New York to try to finalize the document.

Diplomats say the revised draft statement does not condemn Burma's repression of the protesters, but it does call for a release of political prisoners and detainees.

China and Russia, both permanent members of the council with veto powers, have been successfully pushing for softer language in the statement. The United States and other Western powers are calling for tougher action against Burma.

Burmese officials say the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters left 10 people dead. Dissidents put the number of fatalities at 200.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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