Friday, July 24, 2009

Asean will not expel Burma: Thai PM

by Usa Pichai
Friday, 24 July 2009 12:00

Phuket, Thailand (mizzima) - Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai Prime Minister has said that Asean will not expel Burma from the group even as the bloc concluded its summit failing to persuade North Korea to rein in its nuclear programme.

Vejjajiva said in Bangkok on Thursday that Burma’s isolation may not be the solution to the problem.

He was answering questions from reporters regarding US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Asean should expel Burma given its appalling human rights record.

“I insisted that ASEAN countries and western countries have the same goal or opinions but it does not mean that we can resort to the same procedure. We have different conditions particularly between countries in the region and countries far from [Burma]. We have different relationship policies,” Abhisit said.

On Friday, the 42nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, Post Ministerial Conferences and ASEAN Regional Forum was wrapped up in Phuket Province in Southern Thailand, amidst unprecedented security when foreign ministers and high level officials from 26 countries came together.

Kasit Piromya, as the chairman of the 16th Asean Regional Forum (ARF), which concluded on Thursday, said at a press conference that they [the ARF Foreign Ministers] welcomed the close cooperation between the Government of Myanmar and the UN in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. “They expressed their willingness to continue to engage constructively with and contribute to the economic and social development of Myanmar and encouraged the Myanmar Government to make concrete and credible progress on the path of democratization.”

“In this connection, they encouraged the Myanmar [Burmese] Government to hold free, fair and inclusive elections in 2010, thereby laying down a good foundation for future social and economic development. They also called on the Myanmar [Burma] Government to release all those under detention, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, with a view to enabling them to participate in the 2010 general elections, thereby paving the way for meaningful dialogue and genuine reconciliation,” he said.

North Korea's roving ambassador Ri Hong Sik commented on the six-party talks to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programme at an impromptu press conference at Asia's main security meeting, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum. "The US should abandon its hostile policy first," Ri said, according to a report by Deutsch Presse Agentur.

Clinton said at a press conference after the ARF that it was unfortunate that North Korea had shown no willingness to pursue denuclearization at the forum. "There is no place for North Korea to go," Clinton said. "They have no friends left to protect them from the international effort to move forward with denuclearization," she added.

The US expressed its concerns clearly in the summit regarding the close ties between North Korea and Burma and the possibility of nuclear technology transfer.

Clinton praised the military regime in Burma, for its professed willingness to enforce a UN Security Council resolution that calls for an arms embargo on North Korea and the right to inspect any suspicious cargo from the country. "We were gratified by Burma's statement announcing its intention to adhere to the UN resolution," Clinton said.