Burma reiterates warning to neighbours

June 1, 2009 (DVB), A senior member of Burma's ruling junta has issued what appears to be a warning to allied countries that interfering in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi could muddy bilateral relations and upset regional stability.

Referring to the trial of Suu Kyi, Burma's deputy defence minister, Major-General Aye Myint, told a meeting of regional defence officials in Singapore over the weekend that "internal problems in countries that can be solved only on their own proceedings".

Burma has become increasingly isolated over the past two weeks as even close allies such as Thailand and Singapore piled pressure on the regime to release Suu Kyi.

At the same meeting, the United States' defense secretary Robert Gates singled Burma out as an anomaly in a region pushing further toward democratic reform, describing it as "one of the isolated, desolate exceptions to the growing prosperity and freedom for the region."

Burma's retort came in the form of a warning from Aye Myint to neighbouring leaders that interference in domestic matters "may possibly affect the mutual understanding and friendly relationship between countries".

He added that the trial of Suu Kyi was a necessary move to ensure the country fulfils its 'Seven-Step Roadmap to Democracy', and that the opposition leader was undoubtedly complicit in the visit of US citizen John Yettaw, which triggered the charges.

"It is no doubt that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has committed a cover-up of the truth by her failure to report an illegal immigrant to the authorities concerned," he said.

"She permitted him to stay. She communicated, provided him food and shelter."

Meanwhile, Britain’s Minister for International Defense and Security, who was also at the meeting, renewed calls for Suu Kyi's release.

"The continued imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi is a reminder that we cannot take for granted the institutions of democracy," said Ann Taylor.

"We say to the generals: now is the time for transition to democracy, starting with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi."

Reporting by Francis Wade and AFP

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