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EU Eases Policy Toward Bu

/* Written  2:43 PM  Jul 26, 1994 by wov.central@xxxxxxx in igc:soc.cult.burma */
/* ---------- "EU Eases Policy Toward Bu" ---------- */
Subject : EU Eases Policy Toward Burma

   BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- The European Union is easing its
isolationist policy toward Burma's military junta in favor of
high-level dialogue aimed at pushing that country toward democracy,
senior EU officials said Tuesday.
   The switch puts the 12-nation EU on a different path than the
United States, which still shuns the junta. Senior U.S. officials
said Tuesday there were no plans for a U.S.-Burma dialogue.
   "The people of Burma hope their regime will restore democracy
and release Aung San Suu Kyi. We share and support that hope."
said Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in a speech at the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting.
   In Washington, the House passed a resolution Monday calling for
continued economic and diplomatic pressure on Burma until that
country improves its human rights record.
   Burma has been isolated internationally since soldiers shot dead
hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrators in 1988 to crush a
nationwide pro-democracy uprising.
   The junta also has been criticized for refusing to turn over
power after losing a 1990 election and detaining political
prisoners, most notably opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who
entered her sixth year under house arrest last week.
   Speaking at the annual meeting of foreign ministers of ASEAN
nations and their allies, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said
the EU is ready to begin talks with the junta.
   "It is, however, up to the leadership in (Rangoon) to ensure,
by making real progress toward democracy and respect for human
rights, that this does not remain a (one-time-only) meeting," said
Kinkel, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
   Kinkel said the EU was not dropping its insistence on the
necessity of democracy in Burma and Mrs. Suu Kyi's release.
   "There nothing has changed," he told reporters. "We are
talking about what would be the most productive method."
   Kinkel and other senior EU officials were prepared to meet this
week in Bangkok with Burmese Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw, the
highest-level contact since 1988. But the meeting fell through
because of scheduling problems.
   The Burmese minister was attending the ASEAN meeting for the
first time, invited by ASEAN members who argue that exposing the
junta to other countries -- rather than isolation -- encourages
reform in Burma.
   The EU may meet with Ohn Gyaw at the U.N. General Assembly
meeting in September, said Hans van den Broek, a member of the EU
   The Burmese foreign minister recently agreed to hold talks with
U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who has been
entrusted by the world body with trying to improve Burma's human
rights record.
   Ohn Gyaw came under similar pressure this week when he met with
senior officials of three countries that favor dialogue with Burma:
Australia, Thailand and Japan.
   Perhaps most significant was Thailand, which has close ties with
the junta. Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai told Ohn Gyaw the release
of Mrs. Suu Kyi "would be a benefit to Burma itself and would
allow it to get along with its own development," Chuan's spokesman
   It was Thailand's first public message on Mrs. Suu Kyi, whose
plight it had previously called an internal affair of Burma.

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