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Albright Blasts ASEAN Over Burma (r)

 .c The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Not mincing words, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
prepared to meet her counterparts in Southeast Asia by criticizing them for
welcoming Burma into their political fold. 

She called the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' acceptance of Burma
membership on Wednesday ``another brake to the region's progress.'' 

``Burma may be inside ASEAN, but it will remain outside the Southeast Asian
mainstream,'' Albright said before heading to Malaysia today to meet this
weekend with foreign ministers of the economic and security club. 

``By admitting Burma as a member, ASEAN assumes a greater responsibility, for
Burma's problems now become ASEAN's problems,'' Albright said. 

The United States, which in April imposed a ban on new U.S. investment in
Burma, had lobbied to keep Burma out of ASEAN, citing its huge heroin trade
and repressive military regime that ignored the results of 1990 elections. 

Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won the election, but instead of assuming
office, the Nobel Peace Prize winner was put under house arrest by the
military regime. The house arrest has since been lifted. 

The 30-year-old ASEAN, originally devised as a bulwark to communist Indochina,
invited Burma and Laos to join members Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodia was set to join this
year, but ASEAN postponed its membership after Hun Sen ousted his co-prime
leader, Prince Ranariddh Norodom, on July 5. 

The United States is counting on ASEAN to help reason with Hun Sen to turn
back the results of his coup. Albright said her No. 1 goal at a post-ASEAN
meetings and conference with foreign ministers in Malaysia Saturday through
Monday is restoring a coalition government in Cambodia. 

The secretary of state also plans several side meetings with her diplomatic
counterparts from China, Russia and Japan. 

Albright said she was pleased to hear Hun Sen would now accept a mediator role
by ASEAN - something he had rejected just days ago - and she noted that so-
called outsider nations had a right to protect the $3 billion Western
governments have spent to prod Cambodia toward democracy. 

``The United States will use its leverage and do all we can in partnership
with others to see that Hun Sen's words are translated into concrete
actions,'' she said Wednesday to the Pacific Council and Los Angeles World
Affairs Council. ``The international community was right to invest in peace in
Cambodia, and we are right to insist now that the government in Phnom Penh
live up to its obligation to respect democratic principles.'' 

The United States has suspended economic aid to Cambodia - $41.8 million - for
at least 30 days because of the coup, saying full funding won't be restored
unless Hun Sen adheres to the 1991 Paris Peace accord that ended civil war in
Cambodia. That agreement led to the 1993 U.N.-sponsored elections that put the
royal party in power, although Hun Sen was given a co-leader role. 

So far, ASEAN and the United States have refused to accept anyone but
Ranariddh as Hun Sen's co-premier, although the coup leader picked a member of
the royal party, Foreign Minister Ung Huot, to replace his foe. 

In Kuala Lumpur, Ung Huot met Wednesday with former New York congressman
Stephen Solarz, President Clinton's envoy on the crisis. Solarz declined to
disclose details, but said Ung Huot ``may be in a somewhat delicate situation
himself. I think we all know who's calling the shots in Phnom Penh.'' 

Solarz is to report his progress to Albright on Saturday. She's also meeting
with three ASEAN envoys who have met with both sides too. 

U.S. officials remain skeptical about Hun Sen, whose forces have been accused
of executing at least 40 followers of the prince after the coup. 

Nonetheless, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the United States
might accept a replacement for Ranariddh if one is democratically chosen by
the Cambodia National Assembly, set to vote on Sunday. 

AP-NY-07-24-97 0715EDT