US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday condemned the Myanmar junta's imprisonment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and raised worries about Pyongyang-Myanmar military ties.
"We have made it clear that we expect fair treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi, and we have condemned the way she has been treated by the regime in Burma," Clinton told a press conference before attending the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Phuket this week.
The meeting is being watched for signs of change in US policy towards the region's two trouble spots - Myanmar and North Korea.
"Our position is we are moving towards a more productive partnership with Burma if they take certain steps."
The steps included political reforms, "ending violence against their own people including the ethnic minorities" and better treatment of political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
She raised concerns about possible military ties between Pyongyang and Myanmar, although such ties have not been substantiated.
"It would be destabilizing to the region. It would pose a direct threat to Burma's neighbours," Clinton said.
The US secretary of state was in Bangkok for a quick stopover to meet with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to discuss bilateral relations before flying on to Phuket Island to attend the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
The ARF, Asia's main annual security event, is likely to focus on the North Korean issue and Myanmar's political instability when foreign ministers from the grouping's 27 members meet Thursday.
North Korea is the only country that has refused to send a foreign minister to the forum, but will be represented by five lower-level officials.
Clinton will then attend the ARF Thursday. The forum gathers foreign ministers from the 10 member states of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their main Asian and non-Asian allies such as the United States, the European Union and Russia.