Burma is not on the February agenda of the United Nations Security Council because no member has raised the issue

according to Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, the country holding the council’s rotating presidency this month.

“As for Myanmar (Burma), for the moment really, no security council member has raised the issue in our contacts I had yesterday with most of them,” Araud told a press conference on Tuesday following consultations among members on the council’s February program of work.On Monday, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Burma for violations of freedom of expression and lack of media freedom. The statement followed a Rangoon court’s sentencing of two Burmese reporters to long prison terms.

Commentators say that after the attention given by the Security Council to the Burma question following the 2007 demonstrations and the 2008 cyclone, Burma has become a side issue within the UN chamber. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Burma last year, but his repeated requests to the regime chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe for a meeting with the detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi were ignored.

Ban said last month that he was still searching for a replacement for Ibrahim Gambari as the new special UN envoy for Burma, while his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, has been temporarily assigned to coordinate Burma’s affairs for him. The 14-member “Group of Friends on Myanmar [Burma]” established by the secretary-general in Dec 2007 last met in Sept 2009.

Meanwhile, the US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who is visiting South Korea this week, is to raise the issue of human rights abuses in Burma in talks with South Korean officials, according to news reports from Seoul.

According to one report, the US administration wants South Korea to actively join its campaign to address human rights abuses by the Burmese military junta, hoping Seoul’s participation will help encourage other nations to join the initiative.

As part of Washington’s direct engagement policy with Burma, Campbell visited Burma late last year and met with Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein.

Showing signs of frustration with the Burmese regime, Campbell recently told senators at a congressional briefing: “We are attempting to take that first step…but I do want to underscore that one can’t dance on the dance floor alone.”

Analysts say that the relatively subdued UN approach on Burma is probably because the US administration wants to resolve the Burmese issue by means of its direct engagement policy with the regime.

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