Bush to focus on Myanmar not Iran in U.N. speech

Other News Materials 25 September 2007 12:21 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - President George W. Bush is set to announce new U.S. sanctions against Myanmar over human rights as the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders gets under way on Tuesday.

Bush is one of the first speakers on a list that later features Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and diplomats will be watching to see if the leaders of the two bitterly hostile countries cross paths or exchange words.

But despite the United States leading efforts for more U.N. sanctions against Iran to curtail its nuclear program, Bush will only make a brief mention of Tehran in his speech, the White House said.

"The speech is not about Iran," spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "The speech is about liberation and how liberation from poverty, disease, hunger, tyranny and oppression and ignorance can lift people up out of poverty and despair."

Bush will advocate supporting groups in Myanmar that are trying to advance freedom and announce new sanctions directed at key members of the military rulers and their financial supporters, said White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley.

"He's going to talk about the importance of continuing to support the humanitarian organizations that are trying to deal with the needs of the people of Burma on the ground," he said, using Myanmar's former name.

Buddhist monks were joined by tens of thousands of protesters on marches in Myanmar on Monday in the biggest demonstration against the ruling generals since they crushed student-led protests nearly 20 years ago.

"Our hope is to marry that internal pressure with some external pressure -- coming from the United States, the United Nations, and really all countries committed to freedom -- to try and force the regime into a change," Hadley said.