[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Southeast Asian grouping brushes of (r)
- Subject: Southeast Asian grouping brushes of (r)
- From: moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 25 Apr 1997 16:26:00
Subject: Southeast Asian grouping brushes off US sanctions on Burma
Southeast Asian grouping brushes off
US sanctions on Burma
(Incorporates US-Burma-Singapore. Graphic.)
by Roberto Coloma
SINGAPORE, April 24 (AFP) - Members of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) have brushed aside US economic sanctions on
Burma and are pressing ahead with preparations to admit Rangoon,
"ASEAN considers constructive engagement as the best way to
(Burma's) economic liberalisation which in turn will bring about
changes," a Singapore foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
The city-state, which often refrains from commenting on
implicitly criticised the US investment ban and made it clear
move would not affect the timing of Burma's admission into ASEAN.
The spokesman said "sanctions only work in cases where the
economy of a
country is plugged to the global economy," and reiterated that
the admission of
Burma, along with Cambodia and Laos, depends "on their readiness
ASEAN -- which groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- has declared that it will
admit all three at
the same time once they meet the group's economic and other criteria.
The group, which is establishing a free-trade area, has not set a
analysts believe the three will be admitted this year to mark
anniversary. The newest member, Vietnam, was admitted in 1995.
Malaysia is chairing the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in
July, followed by
a summit in December. ASEAN foreign ministers will meet in Kuala
May 31 to discuss expansion plans and other issues.
Army-ruled Burma has been isolated in the West for military
abuses against the
opposition and ethnic minorities, but its neighbours say reform
would be better
promoted by bringing Rangoon into the international mainstream.
An ASEAN diplomat said Thursday that Malaysian Prime Minister
Mohamad was keen to bring the three new members into the group
"It is a big thing for him to bring in these three during
Malaysia's watch," the
diplomat told AFP, adding that the announcement of US sanctions
been prompted by political considerations in Washington.
"I think that's for domestic consumption," he said, remarking
that the sanctions
could "take things away from Whitewater," referring to the
property and loan
scandal to which US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary
have been linked
by political opponents.
Mahathir said Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur that "we are going to
hard" to get Burma into ASEAN.
Asked if Malaysia would protest against the US decision, Mahathir
Lumpur would first have to discuss the issue with the other ASEAN
Thai Prime Minister Chaowalit Yongchaiyudh said "we understand
what the US
has done, but ASEAN will stick to its agreements and our decision
depend on other countries."
The US sanctions were announced Tuesday by Secretary of State
Albright, who said they were in response to severe restrictions
imposed by the
military on the activities of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
National League for Democracy (NLD).
China has denounced the US sanctions. Even Japan and Australia,
criticized the Burmese junta's record, refused to go along with
ASEAN's policy of constructive engagement involves increased
trade coupled with quite diplomatic prodding to promote
democracy and respect for human rights in Burma.
Singapore and Thailand are among the leading foreign investors in
Burma. ASEAN leaders fear that the sudden collapse of the Burmese
could trigger the break-up of the ethnically diverse country and
instability to its neighbours.