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Britain To Continue To Fight For UN Envoy Despite Veto

Britain To Continue To Fight For UN Envoy Despite Veto
Foreign Secretary David Milliband said today Russia and China's decision to block international sanctions against Zimbabwe was "incomprehensible" and confirmed Britain would continue to fight to end suffering at the hands of Robert Mugabe.

A draft resolution, drawn up with the United States, that went before the United Nations Security Council, called for travel bans on the dictator and 13 other leading members of his regime and a freeze on their overseas assets.

It also proposed an arms embargo and the appointment of a special envoy to help with the creation of a new government.

But the move was scuppered by Russia and China's veto. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, said the sanctions went beyond its mandate to deal with threats to international peace and security.

Mr Milliband said: “I am very disappointed that the UN Security Council should have failed to pass a strong and clear resolution on Zimbabwe.

"In particular, it will appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe that Russia, which committed itself at the G8 only a few days ago to take further steps including introducing financial and other sanctions, should stand in the way of timely and decisive security council action.

“Nor will they understand the Chinese vote.”

He continued: “The UN still has a key role to play in supporting African efforts to bring an end to this crisis, and we will continue to press for the appointment of a UN envoy.

“All of our efforts will continue to be directed at alleviating the suffering of Zimbabweans. The violence against them must stop. Humanitarian agencies must be granted full access immediately. And a solution must be found that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, who voted for change on March 29, but whose will continues to be so brutally denied.”

This morning he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “It is right that in the end people have to show their cards and the vote yesterday showed that, in the end, the Russians and the Chinese - I wouldn’t quite say put two fingers up - but effectively they blocked action.

“The Russians and the Chinese were briefing in all sorts of directions. You have to get people to front up because in the end there was hiding going on behind the nods and the winks.

“The Russians signed a G8 statement. Their President at the meeting agreed to the statement which called for, among other things, financial sanctions on the Mugabe regime.

“We thought it was right to bring international pressure to bear. We don’t apologise for that at all."

“Mugabe is more isolated within his own country than ever before,” he said. “We have got to make sure though that the final hold that he has on power, which is at a barrel of a gun, is as short as possible because the misery for those people is absolutely overwhelming.”

Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir John Sawers, joined in the condemnation of the veto which he said had denied Zimbabweans hope for the future.

“We view their decisions as deeply damaging to the long-term interests of Zimbabwe’s people. It has, in our view, harmed the prospects for bringing to an early end the violence and the oppression in Zimbabwe,” he said.

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