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Myanmar Coup

UN Security Council calls for release of Myanmar's Suu Kyi

China joins statement as 15-member body stops short of condemning coup

Myanmar citizens gathered outside a United Nations facility in Bangkok, Thailand on  Feb. 3 hold pictures of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's army chief Min Aung Hlaing with his face crossed out after the military seized power in a coup.    © Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The United Nations Security Council on Thursday called for the release of Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others detained by the military and voiced concern over the state of emergency there but stopped short of condemning the coup.

The 15-member council was briefed on Tuesday, a day after the Myanmar army detained Suu Kyi and others in response to "election fraud," handed power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing and imposed a one-year state of emergency.

The military takeover cut short Myanmar's long transition to democracy and drew condemnation from the United States and other Western countries.

An initial text, drafted by Britain, condemned the coup, but that language appeared to have been softened -- there is no reference to a coup -- to win support from China and Russia, which have traditionally shielded Myanmar from any significant council action.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pledged on Wednesday to mobilize enough international pressure on Myanmar's military "to make sure that this coup fails."

In the agreed statement, the council "stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law."

It "encouraged the pursuance of dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar," the statement said.

A spokesperson for China's U.N. mission said Beijing hoped the key messages in the Security Council statement "could be heeded by all sides and lead to a positive outcome."

"As a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, China hopes that all parties in Myanmar will put the aspiration and interests of the people first, properly handle differences through dialogue within the constitutional and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability," the spokesperson said.

"The international community should create a sound external environment for Myanmar to properly resolve the differences."

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