PM tells UN chief of need to produce more Covid vaccines to help developing countries recover from virus

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BORIS Johnson has told the UN Secretary-General about the “importance” of producing more Covid-19 vaccines for developing countries during a telephone call with Antonio Guterres, Downing Street said.

The UK has more than 400 million doses of vaccine on order and ministers have previously vowed to be “generous around the world” with its supply in recognition that Britain will have enough doses to inoculate the population three times over.

Outlining what happened during the phone call on Tuesday between the Prime Minister and the the Secretary-General, a No 10 spokeswoman said: “They agreed on the importance of scaling up the global manufacturing of coronavirus vaccines and increasing international support to the Covax facility, to ensure vaccine access for developing countries.”

The pair also discussed efforts to tackle climate change, the military coup in Myanmar and “stressed the need to continue international support for the political process in Libya and for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Yemen”.

The spokeswoman added: “Looking ahead to the COP26 summit in November, the PM and Secretary-General committed to work together to encourage states to put forward ambitious plans to reduce global emissions.

“The Prime Minister looked forward to joining the Secretary-General at the UN Security Council next week for a virtual session chaired by the UK on climate and security, and to welcoming him to Cornwall for the G7 summit in June,” she added.

Earlier, Mr Johnson denounced the latest charges against the ousted leader of Myanmar as trumped up as the UK Government repeated calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released.

He tweeted: “New charges against Aung San Suu Kyi fabricated by the Myanmar military are a clear violation of her human rights. We stand with the people of Myanmar and will ensure those responsible for this coup are held to account.”

Dominic Raab has also criticised the move and repeated the UK’s call for the country’s political leaders to be freed.

The Foreign Secretary said: “The charges against Aung San Suu Kyi are politically motivated, and the latest example of the Myanmar military undermining democratically elected politicians.

“Aung San Suu Kyi and all other elected politicians arbitrarily held must be released immediately.

“The UK and likeminded nations will not ignore these violations. We will ensure those responsible are held to account.”

Ms Suu Kyi, whose party won the country’s election last year, was deposed in a military coup earlier this month and placed under arrest.

Khin Maung Zaw, her lawyer, said fresh police charges brought against Ms Suu Kyi this week could see her held indefinitely without trial.

He told reporters, after meeting with a judge in the capital Naypyitaw, that the elected leader had been charged with violating Article 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law, which has been used to prosecute people who have broken coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was ousted in a military coup on February 1, has already been charged with possessing walkie-talkies that were imported without being registered.

The maximum punishment for the Covid-19 violation is three years’ imprisonment.

However, the new charge may allow her to be held indefinitely without trial because a change in the Penal Code instituted by the junta last week permits detention without court permission.

Ms Suu Kyi held the top government post, with the title of state counsellor, at the time of the military takeover.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in defiance of an order banning gatherings of five or more people, with protestors holding placards with pictures of Ms Suu Kyi and demanding the return of democracy.

Buddhist monks demonstrated outside the UN’s local office and on Monday in Mandalay, soldiers and police violently broke up a gathering of more than 1,000 protesters in front of the Myanmar Economic Bank.

They attacked the protesters with catapults and sticks, and police could be seen aiming guns into the air amid sounds that resembled gunfire.

Local media reported rubber bullets were fired into the crowd and that a few people were injured.

The Government ordered internet access blocked on Sunday and Monday nights without giving a reason.

The military contends there was fraud in last year’s election, which Ms Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide, and says it will hold power for a year before holding new elections.

The state election commission found no evidence to support the claims of fraud.

The military says its takeover is legitimate under a 2008 constitution that was drafted under military rule and ensures the army maintains ultimate control over the country.

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