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Vietnam president opposes Burma sanctions

Nov 28, 2007 (AFP), President Nguyen Minh Triet of Vietnam, which joins the UN Security Council next year, on Wednesday rejected Western moves to punish Burma, saying his country remembered the pain of economic sanctions.

But Triet said Vietnam shared concerns about military-ruled Burma, a fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) which launched a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in September.

"Vietnam experienced war and was slapped with economic sanctions," Triet told a news conference during a visit to Tokyo.

"We fully understand the agony people that felt at the time," he said. "Therefore, we will not support economic sanctions on Myanmar, which are merely a means of making people suffer."

The United States and European Union have both stepped up sanctions on Myanmar over its clampdown on dissent, but Asian nations have largely preferred to focus on engaging the regime.

Vietnam, which was under a US trade embargo until 1994, next year joins the UN Security Council for a two-year term in a sign of its integration with the world.

Ibrahim Gambari, the UN special envoy on Burma, visited Hanoi this week and called for Vietnam to support UN efforts to resolve the crisis, saying that the communist country was among the states closest to Burma’s junta.

Triet said that "together with other ASEAN states, Vietnam is deeply worried about the situation in Myanmar".

"We want to try hard to resolve the issue smoothly through cooperation among Vietnam, ASEAN and the United Nations," he added.

During talks with Triet on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda also asked Vietnam to urge Burma to respond to international calls to move towards democracy and cooperate with the United Nations.

Japan has cancelled nearly five million dollars in aid to Burma to protest the crackdown and security forces’ killing of a Japanese journalist as he filmed the events.

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