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US, ASEAN drop call for Suu Kyi's release

world Updated: Nov 15, 2009 21:24 IST

President Barack Obama and his Southeast Asian counterparts are expected to drop a call for Myanmar's ruling generals to release political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ahead of elections next year.

A joint statement to be issued after a summit today between the US president and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, their first ever, devotes an entire section to Myanmar, a major irritant in relations between the two sides.

The leaders emphasized, "the general election to be held in Myanmar in 2010 must be conducted in a free, fair, inclusive and transparent manner in order to be credible to the international community," according to a final draft of the statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Obama, in a broad policy speech in Tokyo on Saturday, made a point of mentioning Suu Kyi by name.

But the leaders' statement does not make any mention of political prisoners including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention. The omission is glaring, since the US had insisted on the inclusion of such a clause in a previous draft.

According to the old draft, the US wanted to insert a line calling on the junta to "help create the conditions for credible elections, including by releasing political prisoners and initiating a dialogue with political parties and ethnic minority groups."