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Malayisan MP Welcomed Burmese Milit

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met
the leader of Burma's military government on Sunday and conveyed concern over
the situation in that country, Malaysia's foreign minister said. 

Mahathir met Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) and Burma's prime minister, ahead of a summit of
Asian nations in the Malaysian capital. 

Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Badawi told reporters the Burmese general
informed Mahathir of recent changes affecting the government in Rangoon. 

``These changes are intended to give the government greater capacity for
development, increase the pace of development in Myanmar (Burma),'' Abdullah

Last month the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which had
ruled the country with an iron fist since seizing power in 1988, was dissolved
as part of a surprise government change that led to the creation of the SPDC. 

Abdullah said Mahathir expressed his views on the situation in Burma to Than

``It has always been our principle not to interfere in the internal affairs of
other countries, but he (Mahathir) did express the view,...this expression of
concern about the Myanmar situation (expressed) by other leaders with whom we
have met,'' Abdullah said. 

``I think that's the part that I would describe as constructive engagement,''
the foreign minister said without elaborating. 

Than Shwe said in a statement after arriving in the Malaysian capital on
Saturday that his presence at the three-day summit starting later on Sunday
showed Burma's commitment to work with ASEAN in all activities. 

Burma was admitted to ASEAN last July along with Laos. 

``It also demonstrates Myanmar's commitment to the common pledge to live
together in peace and harmony in the family of nations in Southeast Asia and
in Asia in which the countries in the region commit themselves to work
together in the interest of the whole region,'' he said. 

The Asian leaders were expected to discuss a planned summit with the European
Union set for next April in London, delegates said. 

A meeting set for last month between the EU and ASEAN member states was
postponed because of disagreement over Burma, which has been criticised by the
West for human rights abuses and for curbing political activities of the
opposition led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. 

ASEAN insisted that Burma be represented at the meeting, but the EU, which has
suspended all high-level contacts with Burma, refused. 

Abdullah said there was no ``automatic membership'' for the Asia-Europe
Meeting (ASEM), which includes not only some countries from ASEAN but also
China, Japan and South Korea. 

``But at the ASEAN-EU bilateral meeting, our concern is that all ASEAN members
be included,'' he said. ^REUTERS@