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Leaders back Burma open-door plicy.

		Leaders back Burma open-door policy

	INdonesia and Malaysia defended yesterday ASEAN's "constructive 
engagement" with Burma, saying Rangoon's much-criticised human rights 
record should not deny it early membership in the grouping.

	Malaysia's Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir, and the visiting 
Indonesian President, Mr Suharto, agreed that Burma should not be isolated.

	"Why should ASEAN adopt a rule which other international 
organisations do not practise," Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Mr Ali 
Alatas, told a news conference after the meeting between the leaders.

	Mr Suharto arrived on Sunday for a 24-hour visit aimed at 
enchancing bilateral ties.

	Mr Suharto said the Association of South-East Asian Nations 
should not look at the internal political situation of a particular 
country when judging its qualification for membership.

	"Don't ask ASEAN to do what is not accepted by others," Mr Alatas 
said, adding that even the United Nations, which was made up of countries 
of diverse political ideologies, had no such criteria for membership.

	Mr Alatas was asked to comment on an apparent split in ASEAN 
military clampdown by the Burmese junta in the past fortnight in which 
hundreds of pro-democracy activists were arrested.

	The President of the Phillipines, Mr Ramos, has asked ASEAN to 
review its policy towards Burma at its summit in Jakata on November 30. 
Mr Alatas said that as far as Burma's membership in ASEAN was concerned, 
"Indonesia and Malaysia are of the same stand" and that for ASEAN as a 
whole "there is no problem".

	"It is a question of timing," Mr Alatas said.

	At a separate briefing Malaysia's Foreign Minister, Mr Abdullah 
Badawin, said both leaders had stressed the process of constructive 
engagement must go on. However, he said no date had been fixed for 
Burma's full membership.

	ASEAN, which groups Malaysia and Indonesia with Brunei, The 
Phillipine, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, has rejected efforts by many 
Western countries to isolate Burma.

	Malaysia wants Burma, which was accorded observer status in ASEAN 
in July, to join next year, when Kuala Lumpur hosts ASEAN's ministrial 

	The secretary-general, Mr Ajit Singh, will visit Burma next month 
to prepare for Rangoon's membership.

[By ONG SAW LAY, in Kuala Lumpur, AFP, 8 October 1996].