As protests intensify against the military generals in Myanmar, world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly are expected to push the ruling junta to adopt democratic reforms.
The United States and European nations are to spearhead a diplomatic blitz at the annual gathering this week in an apparent bid to lend support to the biggest democratic campaign in two decades in the tightly ruled Southeast Asian state, diplomats said.
The move comes as Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest, appeared in public on Saturday for the first time in four years, greeting and paying respect to thousands of monks and their supporters protesting in the commercial capital Yangon against the military junta.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said he will raise the Myanmar issue at the UN General Assembly in New York, following a briefing on the situation at the UN Security Council last week.
His counterparts from Europe, which has put off plans for a free trade pact with ASEAN due to Myanmar’s human rights record, will also be highlighting the topic at the UN meeting, diplomats said.
Both the European Union (EU) and the United States have been at the forefront of political and economic sanctions against Myanmar’s junta for years but to no avail. US President George W. Bush, who delivers his address at the UN General Assembly and holds a roundtable meeting on democracy with a group of about 20 leaders on Tuesday, is expected to add to the international pressure on Myanmar’s junta.
“You’ve got Burma, which I think, as you know, the First Lady and the President both have spent time on, and I think it would be fair to think that that might be mentioned,” said Michael Kozak, a senior official with the National Security Council. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will also highlight the Myanmar crisis at a meeting with her counterparts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Thursday.