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Malaysia says Burma's entry into AS

Subject:  Malaysia says Burma's entry into ASEAN vital for regional stability

US-Burma-Malaysia : Malaysia says Burma's entry into ASEAN vital for regional 

by M. Jegathesan

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 (AFP) - Malaysia Sunday said the entry of Burma into 
ASEAN was vital for regional stability and economic growth.

"We see the membership of Burma in ASEAN from various angles -- strategic and 
growth of the region. It should be brought into the regional organisation," 
Foreign Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters here.

Abdullah said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has agreed to 
accept Burma's entry. "It is ASEAN's standpoint. We understand the issue 
better than the United States."

His comments followed an announcement by US State Department spokesman 
Nicholas Burns on Friday that the United States was trying to persuade ASEAN 
members to reject Burma's bid for full membership, on the grounds of its 
"woeful human rights performance."

"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.

Burma is expected to become a full member of ASEAN -- which groups Brunei, 
Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- later 
this year.

Abdullah said ASEAN nations policy of constructive engagement with Burma 
served the region well, adding that Burma already attends the ASEAN Regional 
Forum (ARF) and the Post Ministerial Conference (PMC).

The political system of a country is not made a condition for admittance even 
into the United Nations, he said, adding that ASEAN maintains a strict policy 
of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

"However, we hope through our relations with Burma, we can bring changes to 
benefit its people. We will decide what is good for us," Abdullah said.

He also said there was no need for ASEAN to tell the United States not to 
interfere in regional matters. "We do not have any desire to quarrel with any 

Abdullah said ASEAN only had a difference of opinion with the US, adding that 
it was not confrontational in nature.

"It is the decision of ASEAN heads to admit Burma, Cambodia and Laos 
simultaneously," he said, when asked if there was a possibility of only Burma 
denied entry this year in the wake of the US appeal.

Admitting the three countries this year, ASEAN's 30th anniversary, would 
fulfill the group's long-held ambition of incorporating the 10 nations of 
Southeast Asia.