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Philippines to urge Myanmar to democratise

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo will urge the military junta to fulfill a long-standing promise to rapidly democratise.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 17:58 IST

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo will urge Myanmar on Wednesday to fulfill a long-standing promise to rapidly democratise, diplomats said.

Romulo will reiterate the call during a meeting with Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win on the sidelines of an annual summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the central city of Cebu, two senior Filipino diplomats said.

During the meeting, Romulo is expected to praise efforts by the tiny military-ruled nation to draft a constitution and press for the release of some long-held political dissidents, one of the diplomats said.

They added that Romulo would stress "there is much more to be done."

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

"It's Secretary Romulo's mantra always to remind Myanmar of the need for it to make more progress in its roadmap to democracy," one of the diplomats told the agency.

After the meeting, the two ministers will join eight other ASEAN counterparts in a working dinner, where Nyan Win was expected to make a report on Myanmar's reform efforts.

The United States government on Tuesday introduced a UN resolution calling the deteriorating situation in Myanmar a serious risk to regional peace and urging its military government to immediately free all political prisoners.

Washington faces an uphill struggle in winning Security Council approval of the draft because of opposition from China and Russia, both veto-wielding council members.

The council put Myanmar on its agenda on September 15 over objections from Beijing and Moscow.

Myanmar's Ambassador to Manila, Thaung Tun, said late on Monday his country has friendly relations with its neighbours and has been struggling to build a stronger economy and foster national unity.

"It bears to be repeated that Myanmar is a peace-loving nation and poses no threat to its neighbours or the region," Thaung Tun told diplomats in Manila.

Western nations and even fellow ASEAN members have long expressed concern over Myanmar's dismal human rights record.

Some ASEAN members like Malaysia have lately become more blunt in their criticism, urging the junta to show "tangible progress" in its promise to democratise.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962, and the current group of generals took power in 1988.

They called elections in 1990 but refused to recognise the results when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a resounding victory.

ASEAN'S members are Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

First Published: Jan 10, 2007 17:58 IST