Thailand 'concerned' but will not pressure Burma junta

May 19, 2009 (DVB), Thailand, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has said it will go no further than rhetorical condemnation of Aung San Suu Kyi's trial, having ruled out sanctions on the Burmese regime.

The leaders of ASEAN countries, of which Burma is a controversial member, released a statement yesterday reiterating calls for the release of Suu Kyi, who is currently on trial over breaches of her house arrest.

"Thailand, as the ASEAN Chair, expresses grave concern about recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, given her fragile health," said the statement, adding that "the honour and the credibility of the Government of the Union of Myanmar are at stake".

"Thailand, as the ASEAN Chair, reaffirms ASEAN's readiness to contribute constructively to the national reconciliation process and the peaceful transition of democracy in Myanmar."

Yet a reminder of ASEAN's mantra of non-interference was given yesterday by a Thai foreign ministry official, who ruled out anything beyond vocal pressuring of the regime.

"Thailand will not use strong measures or economic sanctions against [Burma] because it is not an appropriate resolution for the current problem," said Chavanond Intarakomalyasut.

Thailand remains an important trading partner with Burma, and has long resisted calls for international sanctions on the regime, instead emphasising diplomatic engagement as key to bringing the country out of isolation.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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