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Myanmar blames 'opportunists'

  • Story Highlights
  • AP: Gambari meets with Sen. Gen. Than Shwe in bid to end crisis
  • Win blames "political opportunists" for exploiting initial protest against fuel prices
  • Win warns international community against "adding fuel to the fire"
  • Source: Myanmar soldiers detain hunger strikers at a Yangon school
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Myanmar's foreign minister U Nyan Win on Monday blamed intense pro-democracy demonstrations in his country on "political opportunists" and declared that "normalcy has now returned to Myanmar."

Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win addresses the U.N. General Assembly Monday in New York.

His remarks came hours before U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari met with Myanmar's military leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, The Associated Press cited a foreign diplomat as saying on condition of anonymity. No details of the meeting on Tuesday in the junta's remote new capital, Naypyitaw, were available.

The reported meeting followed Gambari's talks with senior government officials in Naypyitaw on Saturday and with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on Sunday to seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing clashes.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Win defended what he called the government's "seven-step road map" to draft a new constitution and hold elections.

"Recent events make clear that there are elements within and outside the country who wish to derail the ongoing process so that they can take advantage of the chaos that would follow," he said. "They have become more and more emboldened and have stepped up their campaign to confront the government."

Myanmar's ruling military junta imposed heavy security restrictions in Yangon, the former capital, last week as pro-democracy demonstrations began to attract tens of thousands of protesters.

At least 10 people have been killed by security forces in recent days, according to media and opposition reports, which CNN cannot independently confirm. Video Watch some of the images that have managed to get out of Myanmar »

"The situation would not have deteriorated had the initial protest of a small group of activists against the rise in fuel prices not been exploited by political opportunists," Win said. "They sought to turn the situation in a political showdown aided and abetted by some powerful countries."

"The security personnel exercised utmost restraint, and they did not intervene for nearly a month," the foreign minister said. "However, when the mob became unruly and provocative, they were compelled to declare a curfew. Subsequently, when protesters ignored their warnings, they had to take action to restore the situation. Normalcy has now returned to Myanmar."

Buddhist monks initiated the demonstrations in August to protest a rise in gasoline prices.

Security forces in Yangon have restricted the movement of the monks and locked most of the monasteries, effectively barring the Buddhist clergy from marching on the streets in protest, a report from the opposition Web site Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com) said, which CNN cannot independently confirm.

In other developments, a well-known source with the pro-democracy movement told CNN that Myanmar soldiers were detaining about 2,000 people at AGTI, a technology school in Yangon, for hunger-striking against the crackdown on demonstrators.

According to the source, those involved in the strike that started Friday include students, nuns and monks.

In his U.N. speech, Win condemned what he said was "neocolonialism (that) has reared its ugly head in recent years." Without naming names, he said that the neo-colonialists first "conduct media campaigns against the targeted country and spread disinformation that the country concerned is committing gross human-rights violations."

After that, he said, they seek to impose economic sanctions that "are counterproductive and can only delay the path to democracy." Then, he said, they attempt to foment unrest in the targeted country, and, "finally, under the pretext that a country is undemocratic, unstable, and that it poses a threat to international peace and security, they intervene directly and invade the country."

"My country is currently subjected to such courses of action," he said. " ... On our part, we are determined to proceed resolutely towards democracy along our chosen path."

Noting that a constitution convention completed its work by approving "the fundamental principles for the new constitution" earlier this month, Win said that "significant progress has already been made."

"In this regard, the international community can best help Myanmar by showing greater understanding," he said. "They can begin by refraining from measures which would result in adding fuel to the fire."

In his speech, Win recognized Gambari's presence in Myanmar, and said the government "will continue to work closely and cooperate actively with the United Nations."

On Monday Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said his government was concerned but added that the Chinese do not feel the situation rose to the level of international concern.

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"China has been working on the various parties in the country, focusing its effort on the prevention of the occurrence of large-scale bloody events," Baodong said. "We believe this is a domestic issue that does not constitute a threat to the international community."

The United States has repeatedly urged China to pressure Myanmar's military leaders to stop the crackdown on protesters and start talking to pro-democracy leaders, including Suu Kyi. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About MyanmarAung San Suu KyiIbrahim Gambari

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