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AP(26.11.96): CLINTONS URGE DIALOGU
Subject: AP(26.11.96): CLINTONS URGE DIALOGUE, WARN DRUG TRAFFICKING IN BURMA
ASIA: CLINTON ATTACKS BURMA ON HUMAN RIGHTS, NARCOTICS
CLINTON THAI DAYLEAD
BANGKOK, Oct 26 AP - After lauding the triumph of democracy in
much of Asia, United States President Bill Clinton singled out
military-ruled Burma today for tough criticism on human rights
abuses and narcotics trafficking.
In a speech at Bangkok's prestigious Chulalongkorn University,
Clinton said the refusal of Burma's rulers to move toward democracy
and the regime's involvement in narcotics "are really two sides of
the same coin for both represent the absence of the rule of law".
Burma is the world's number one producer of opium and heroin.
The president praised "the brave reformers in Burma led by Aung
San Suu Kyi", the pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize
laureate who has come under increasing pressure and harassment from
"Every nation has an interest in promoting true political
dialogue in Burma - a dialogue that will lead to a real fight
against crime, corruption and narcotics and a government more
acceptable to its people," Clinton said.
In his wide-ranging address, he challenged the notion, advocated
by some Asian leaders, that economic growth was best achieved by
governments that exercised tight control over their citizens.
"We need look no further than the economic vitality of Thailand,
the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea to see that economic growth
and democratic development can go hand in hand," he said.
He later praised Cambodia and Mongolia, but left out China,
Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from the list of nations he said
were making progress in improving freedom and justice.
The omissions would be carefully noted in the region since the
four countries were influential because of economic or military
muscle and at the centre of debate on democracy in Asia.
Some profess belief that economic development takes priority
over democracy; others that democracy is not necessarily an Asian
Clinton's speech implicitly rejected their arguments.
The leaders of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia were pushing
for Burma's entry into the Association of South-East Asian Nations
which would give the ruling junta greater diplomatic and economic
More democratic ASEAN members such as the Philippines and
Thailand were opposed to Burma's early entry.
The opening salvo against Burma was yesterday fired by First
Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton who called for serious political
dialogue between Suu Kyi and the military.
She spoke at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand.
Clinton's two-day state visit to Thailand, the first by a US
leader since Richard Nixon in 1969, comes after the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation forum in the Philippines.
Thailand's new Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh later said
he would travel to Burma and try to persuade the generals to heed
international demands for more democracy and respect for human
"Let them understand what's going on in the region in
globalisation," Chavalit said.
A former commander of Thailand's influential army, he called the
rulers "old friends".
Washington responded to the worsening political climate in Burma
earlier this year by banning visits by members of the military
government and their families.
The measures were largely token.
Economic sanctions were threatened if the regime harmed Suu Kyi,
but have not been put into effect despite a recent attack on her
car by a mob on November 9 that the State Department had evidence
was organized by the regime.
The US cut off economic aid to the country following the brutal
crushing of a pro-democracy uprising in 1988.
But American companies continue to do business in Burma.