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ASEAN tells Myanmar to adopt democracy

Malaysian Foreign Minister said ASEAN had privately sent a strong message to the Mynamar junta to speed up democratic reforms.
None | By Press Trust of India, Kuala Lumpur
PUBLISHED ON JUL 26, 2006 11:43 AM IST

Southeast nations have privately told Myanmar to free dissident Aung San Suu Kyi and embrace democracy quickly, while international efforts to bring North Korea to the nuclear bargaining at the group's annual meeting appeared to run aground.

The European Union, meanwhile, has agreed to grant Myanmar's foreign minister a visa to attend a September 10-11 summit of Asian and European leaders in Finland.

This despite a standing EU ban on visas to Myanmar's junta, an EU official said on Wednesday at the annual gathering of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur.

The group's foreign ministers on Tuesday issued a communiqué in which they expressed concern over the political situation in Myanmar, but in language that was no stronger than in similar statements in past years.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told reporters on Wednesday that the statement on Myanmar, a fellow ASEAN member, may have seemed weak because it had to reflect "a compromised position in order to be acceptable to all."

But he said that ASEAN has privately sent a "very strong message" to the Mynamar junta to speed up democratic reforms.

"Individually when we were having discussions, we sent a very strong signal that unless they change the pressure is going to continue and this is not good for ASEAN," he said.

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