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US tries to block Burma's entry int

Subject: US tries to block Burma's entry into ASEAN

US-Burma-ASEAN : US tries to block Burma's entry into ASEAN

WASHINGTON, April 25 (AFP) - The United States is trying to persuade 
member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to turn 
down a bid by Burma to join the organisation, the State Department said 

"We don't believe that ASEAN should take this step," spokesman Nicholas Burns 

"Burma's human rights performance is so woeful, so irresponsible that surely 
it should not be treated as a normal country, it should not be rewarded by 
membership in one of the most prestigious and important pan-Asian 
organisations," he added.

The United States on Tuesday announced a ban on investment by US businesses in 
Burma, citing the military regime's authoritarian tactics, in particular its 
attempt to silence Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

But it also indicated it was willing to press countries in the region to also 
toughen their approach to the military regime in Rangoon.

"We are trying to use our influence to make the point that Burma should be 
given a stiff message that it is not welcome," Burns said of the ASEAN 
proposal to admit Burma, along with Laos and Cambodia.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, 
Thailand and Vietnam.

Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad, whose country currently chairs the 
association, said Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur that the US decision would not 
affect the drive for Burma's membership in the group.

"We are going to work very hard to get Myanmar (Burma's official name) into 
ASEAN," Bernama news agency quoted Mahathir as saying.

ASEAN foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Kuala Lumpur on May 31 to 
discuss when to admit the three countries into the regional grouping.

They are likely to be admitted this year, either during the ASEAN ministerial 
meeting in July or the informal ASEAN summit in December.