NLD claims junta only interested in own security

June 2, 2009 (DVB), Burma's warning to its neighbours to respect its sovereignty should only be interpreted as an attempt to guard the security of the Burmese junta and not its citizens, the National League for Democracy said yesterday.

Responding to a statement given by Burma's deputy defence minister at the weekend that called for regional countries to steer clear of interfering in domestic matters for fear of affecting "the peace and security of the region", NLD member Win Tin said it was a reaction to mounting international pressure.

"He [Aye Myint] is absolutely right, but the 'security' he was talking about is not the security for the people and the politicians in our country," said Win Tin.

"He was talking about the security of the military regime itself, which is now facing a growing threat in the country as the international pressure increases."

Deputy defence minister Aye Myint had been addressing a meeting of regional defence officials in Singapore.

The meeting came amidst mounting international pressure on the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial for allegedly breaching conditions of her house arrest.

Thailand, who holds close ties to the regime and has in the past been reluctant to pass criticism, has become increasingly vocal as Suu Kyi's trial has progressed.

Burma last week reacted angrily to Thailand's "grave concern", warning it not to interfere in Burma's internal affairs for fear of setting a bad precedent within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, which follows a line of non-interference in member countries domestic affairs.

Yet the Suu Kyi trial has brought to light a debate over whether Burma's internal problems are now affecting the region, with Thailand's ASEAN chief stoking the flames with comments to the effect that Burma was now tarnishing the bloc's image.

Speaking on the sidelines of talks between ASEAN and European Union leaders in Hanoi last week, Surin Pitsuwan warned of damage to the bloc's credibility, with Burma an ever more controversial member.

"The discussion in the room back there was that [Suu Kyi's trial]… affects ASEAN’s image and ASEAN’s collective interests," he told reporters.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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