Sat, 05 Mar 2005
From: Reuters

ASEAN unhappy with Myanmar reform effort, report says

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is unhappy about the progress of democratic reforms in Myanmar and the impact this may have on relations with Europe, Singapore state media reported on Friday.

Military-ruled Myanmar is due to take over the one-year chairmanship of ASEAN in 2006, hosting a summit of the bloc's leaders as well as ministerial meetings. Some ASEAN members fear that its failure to reform could jeopardize relations with dialogue partners.

State-controlled broadcaster Channel News Asia quoted Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo as saying that the regional group would discuss Myanmar's situation at a closed-door meeting in the Philippines next month.

"Last year ASEAN countries took a firm position with the EU that Myanmar could not be excluded from the ASEAN-Europe Meeting in Hanoi. We stood our ground and succeeded, but subsequent developments in Yangon undermined our position," Yeo told parliament.

"Our hope is that the ASEAN spirit of consultation and consensus will enable us to find a solution for next year," he said.

Channel News Asia said some dialogue partners had threatened to boycott meetings if there was no reform progress in Myanmar.

Many of ASEAN's other members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines -- have criticized some of the junta's actions, especially its detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Last November, parliamentarians of ASEAN said Myanmar should not be allowed to take over as chairman of the group and its membership should be suspended due to the lack of democratic reform because it was "severely detrimental to the interests of ASEAN". -- Reuters





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