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Thai New Gov. Urges Burma's General

BANGKOK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Thailand's new government plans to follow a
policy of ``constructive engagement'' with Burma but the Thai deputy foreign
minister on Friday urged Rangoon not to isolate itself. 

``The policy of constructive engagement is going to carry on but we will put
stress on the word 'constructive','' deputy foreign minister Sukhumbhand
Paribatra told parliament as part of a presentation of the new government's

``The most important part is we are supporting Burma to be more open,'' he

He urged the military government in Rangoon to try to improve relations with
other countries and recognise internationally accepted standards of democracy
and human rights. 

``They have to adjust ... to recognise that the world today has international
rules,'' he said. ``No country can isolate themselves and live alone without
complying to such international rules. It is to the Burmese benefit to seek a
way to develop itself.'' 

Thailand, along with the other members of the Association of South East Asian
Nations (ASEAN), has followed a policy of non-interference or ``constructive
engagement'' with Burma. 

Many Western nations and international rights organisations had urged ASEAN
not to accept Burma as a full member because acceptance would be tantamount
to acceptance of Rangoon's widespread human rights abuses. 

But ASEAN, which accepted Burma as a full member in July, says isolation will
not help the situation. 

Thailand's previous government led by Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, had warm
relations with the leaders of Burma's former ruling military body -- the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). 

The SLORC was recently reshaped, supposedly to weed out corrupt ministers,
and renamed the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). 

Thailand's new prime minister, Chuan Leekpai, has taken a stronger stance
against the ruling generals, especially in the realm of human rights. 

Chuan, who took office earlier this month after Chavalit quit his job, was
also prime minister from 1992-1995. In 1993, he was praised by human rights
groups when he allowed a group of Nobel Peace laureates to visit Burmese
refugee camps and rebel leaders on the Thai border. 

The Nobel Peace laureates were trying to travel to Burma to seek the release
of a fellow prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest at the
time. SLORC officials refused to let the group of Nobel laureates enter

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in a
1990 election but was not allowed to govern after the SLORC refused to
recognise the result of the poll. ^REUTERS@ 

08:03 11-21-97