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Malaysian minister to monitor democratic efforts

Syed Hamid Albar travelled to Myanmar as Southeast Asia's envoy to monitor claims of democratic reforms by the country.
None | By Press Trust of India, Kuala Lumpur
PUBLISHED ON MAR 23, 2006 01:36 PM IST

Malaysia's foreign minister travelled to Myanmar on Thursday as Southeast Asia's envoy to monitor claims of democratic reforms by the country's military rulers, officials said.

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who plans to stay in Yangon till Saturday, is accompanied by several senior officials of the Malaysian foreign ministry.

The visit is meant to "obtain first hand information on the progress of the implementation of the reconciliation (with the opposition) and democratisation process in Myanmar," the statement said.

Syed Hamid departed on Thursday on a Malaysian government plane from an air force airstrip, a foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity, saying he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

The government statement said Syed Hamid would hold discussions with leaders of Myanmar and "various representatives in the reconciliation and democratisation process." This implied that he would be meeting representatives of the opposition National League for Democracy party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

But it didn't say if he would get to see Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest.

Syed Hamid's trip as an envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was originally scheduled for January, but has been postponed several times by Myanmar's military rulers for various reasons.

Syed Hamid will brief ASEAN foreign ministers about his trip during their April 17-18 retreat in Bali, Indonesia, the Malaysian statement said.

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