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Vietnam rejects US efforts to block

Subject: Vietnam rejects US efforts to block Burma's entry into ASEAN

Burma-US-Vietnam : Vietnam rejects US efforts to block Burma's entry into 

HANOI, April 27 (AFP) - The Vietnamese government on Saturday accused the 
United States of interference in ASEAN's internal affairs after Washington 
announced it would try to block Burma's entry into the regional grouping.

The admission of Burma "is completely ASEAN's internal affairs", Vietnam's 
Foreign Ministry said in an official response.

"The exertion of pressure or hindrance" to Burma's entry into the Association 
of Southeast Asian Nations "is only unfavourable to the image and interests of 
the interfering country in Southeast Asia", the ministry said, but did not 
mention the United States by name.

"ASEAN do not take internal affairs of those countries who want to join the 
organisation as a condition for membership, the point is whether that country 
can meet ASEAN's structure and rules", the Foreign Ministry said.

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on Friday urged ASEAN members to 
turn down Burma's bid for entry to the regional grouping.

"Burma's human rights performance is so woeful, so irresponsible that (...) it 
should not be rewarded by membership in one of the most prestigious and 
important pan-Asian organisations," Burns said.

The ASEAN has agreed in principle to allow Burma, Laos and Cambodia to join 
the organization simultaneously this year.

Washington on Tuesday announced a ban on investment by US businesses in Burma, 
citing the military regime's authoritarian tactics. It also indicated that it 
was willing to press countries in the region to toughen their approach to the 
military regime in Rangoon.

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