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EU to raise Burma at Asia-Europe Meeting

Oct 20, 2008 (DVB), The European Union has been preparing to raise the issue of Burma at the upcoming ASEM in China, according to National League for Democracy-Liberated Area member Nyo Ohn Myint.

The EU Council is to hold a preparatory meeting on 22 October to discuss the Asia-Europe Meeting, which opens on 24 October.

The NLD-LA and National Council of the Union of Burma has prepared a draft to be sent to the meeting, Nyo Ohn Myint said.

The draft emphasises that the number of political prisoners has increased significantly to more than 2000, including NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and that the Burmese regime is avoiding dialogue with the opposition.

When asked whether host country China could obstruct discussion of Burma, Nyo Ohn Myint said that he thought China could itself come under pressure.

"Although the SPDC prime minister will be there, I expect that there could be a form of pressure on the Chinese government from Europe and Asia countries over the unfair detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," Nyo Ohn Myint said.

"This is because China is expected to practise a fair foreign policy after the Olympics and the continued detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will become a focus for pressure."

But former Burmese ambassador to China and veteran politician, Thakhin Chan Tun thinks differently.

"The EU might broach the subject but none of the ASEAN members will want to talk about it," Thakin Chan Tun said.

"So I think that they will try to avoid the subject. China will not talk about the good and bad things about Burma," he said.

"I don’t think that it will be allowed to get to a point where actions are taken."

The main topics for discussion in the coming ASEM will be the global financial crisis, the energy crisis and regional security.

Burmese prime minister major-general Thein Sein is due to attend the meeting, though Burmese state-run media have reported that he is going to Beijing to attend the China-ASEAN trade fair.

ASEM comprises 45 partners including the European Commission and 27 European Union member states, the ASEAN secretariat and 10 ASEAN members and six other Asian countries, including China.

ASEM 7, the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting, is being held in Beijing, China, from 24 to 25 October.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min


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