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Asia-Europe meeting might be cancel

    Asia-Europe meeting might be cancelled over Burma

(Updates with Commission comment, changes dateline from Bangkok)
    BRUSSELS, Nov 13 (Reuters) - A gathering next week between
officials of the European Union and the Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN) may be cancelled because of
disagreement over Burma's participation, Thai and European
Commission officials said on Thursday.
    A European Commission spokesman said an exchange of letters
between the EU executive and ASEAN over the issue had so far
failed to resolve the disagreement.
    "The two sides are in their camps and we are coming up to
the date of the meeting," the spokesman said.
    ASEAN insists there be no discrimination against any of its
members. The nine-member group said the EU's demand that Burma
be excluded was viewed as a sign the Europeans did not want the
meeting to take place.
    "The ASEAN stance is non-discriminating, so when EU comes in 
one bloc ASEAN won't drop one of its member from the meeting,"
Suraphong Jayanama, spokesman for the Thai ministry of foreign
affairs, told Reuters.
    "Thailand, which acted as ASEAN's messenger, has already
onpassed the messages to the EU," Surapong said.
    Technical experts of the ASEAN-EU joint cooperation
committee are scheduled to meet in Bangkok from November 17-19
to discuss cooperation projects between the two groups.
    The EU has signalled it opposes Burma's participation
because of its human rights record and curbs on opposition
figures. The EU has suspended all high-level contacts with Burma 
in protest.
    Burma in July became a member of ASEAN which also groups
Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia,
Thailand and Vietnam.
    Burma, which is run by the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), has been widely criticised by the West for
human rights abuses.
    In Manila, the Philippines backed Burma's right to sit at
the meeting in Bangkok and said it was up to the EU to decide if 
they would attend or not.
    "That's up to them...Our (ASEAN's) decision is to go through 
with the meeting," Philippine foreign under-secretary and
incoming ASEAN Secretary-General, Rodolfo Severino, told
    "We feel that nobody should discriminate between ASEAN
countries when it comes to dealing with ASEAN as a whole," he
    Severino said ASEAN had not received any word from the EU
that it would not attend the Bangkok meeting.
    "You and I know they have problems with Myanmar (Burma) so
this is why it is necessary (for ASEAN) to take this position,"
Severino said.
    "The position that the EU seems to be taking...seems to be
very highly political in nature so we just have to take a stand
on it," he said.
0957 131197 GMT