UN fails to agree on joint Myanmar statement, diplomats blame China, Russia

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The UN Security Council failed to agree Friday on a joint statement on the crisis in Myanmar after a closed-door meeting, with diplomats blaming Beijing -- the junta's main backer -- and Russia for raising objections and putting forward their own competing text.

The session was convened by Vietnam to present the conclusions of a recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Indonesia. ASEAN is to appoint an envoy to help resolve the crisis sparked by the February 1 coup by the Myanmar military.

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During the meeting, the UN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, who is currently touring the region, gave a report on her long meeting with Myanmar junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing, held on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting.

Diplomats said the envoy, who is currently based in Bangkok, once again had her request for a visit to Myanmar denied.

During the meeting, Brunei, which currently holds the presidency of ASEAN, floated the idea of a joint visit to Myanmar by the UN envoy and her future ASEAN counterpart.

A draft Security Council declaration, drawn up by Britain, failed to win full endorsement as it stood.

A copy obtained by AFP showed that it planned to give "full support for the central role of ASEAN" and to encourage a visit to Myanmar by Schraner Burgener "as soon as possible."

It said that members of the Security Council "once again strongly condemned violence against peaceful protestors" and "reiterated their call on the military to exercise utmost restraint."

But diplomats said China and Russia objected to the British draft and proposed their own short competing text, which proved unacceptable to the majority of the Security Council.

Discussions were still underway for a merger of the two draft statements on Friday, diplomats said.

Nearly 760 civilians have been killed by police and soldiers in the past three months, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The junta puts the death toll at 258 dead by April 15, calling the demonstrators "rioters" who engaged in "acts of terrorism".

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