Asean expects Burma to respond to Int’l concerns

by Mungpi
Thursday, 23 July 2009 22:06

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their dialogue partners on Thursday concluded the regional security forum, exhorting Burma to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose trial will hear the final argument on Friday.

Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, in his press statement as the Chairman of the Asean Ministerial Meeting, Post Ministerial Conferences and ASEAN Regional Forum reminded military-ruled Burma to be responsive to international concerns.

Kasit said the Asean as well as members of the ARF respect the sentiment of friendship and goodwill and would like to assist Burma in its efforts to promote democracy, human rights and the well-being of her people.

“At the same time, it is hoped that Myanmar would also be responsive to the international community’s concerns,” Kasit said.

Delegates from Burma led by Foreign Minister Nyan Win, during the four day conference held in Thailand’s resort island of Phuket faced criticism and strong worded messages from several quarters over the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

On Wednesday evening, US officials met the Burmese delegation and conveyed the importance of Burma implementing the terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1874 on North Korea, which imposed sanctions on North Korea over its recent missile and nuclear tests. US Secretary of State Clinton did not join the talks with the Burmese delegation.

During the talks, according to a statement by the US State Department, the US officials also pointed out their expectation from Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi and to begin a process of freeing political prisoners, and making the election scheduled for 2010 open, transparent and credible.

Clinton, during a press briefing on Thursday said, this view was not only of the US, “It was very widely and, I must say, from the heart – it was really expressed from the heart by so many people.”

On Wednesday, Clinton said Asean should consider expelling Burma from the grouping if the ruling regime sentences the detained Nobel Peace Laureate.

But later on the same day, she also said, the US would expand relations with Burma if the military junta releases Aung San Suu Kyi.

“If she [Suu Kyi] were released, that would open up opportunities, at least for my country, to expand our relationship with Burma, including investments in Burma. But it is up to the Burmese leadership,” Clinton said.

But her remarks were refuted on Thursday by Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva saying there are “insufficient grounds” to expel Burma from the 10-member bloc.

Speaking in his capacity as the current chair of Asean, Abhisit said while the west and Asean share the same goals regarding democracy in Burma, the policies cannot be the same.

He also said, expelling the military-ruled country over the detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is not likely solve the problem but will only further isolate the country.

“There are not enough grounds to expel Myanmar [Burma] from ASEAN”, reports quoted Abhisit as saying. “If we do that, it will further isolate Myanmar [Burma] and would not solve the problem.”

But he reiterated that Asean wishes to see Burma achieve democracy and is monitoring the situation there including the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the 1990 election winning National League for Democracy party, is currently facing a trial on charges of violating her detention terms for allegedly harbouring an American man, John Yettaw, who swam to her lakeside home in early May.

If found guilty, she could be sentenced up to five years in prison.


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