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U.S. Urges ASEAN to Press Myanmar

U.S. urges ASEAN to press Myanmar on drugs, dialogue

 .c Kyodo News Service    

MANILA, May 24 (Kyodo) - A senior U.S. government official Sunday called on
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to urge Myanmar to curb
drugs production while encouraging the junta there to have dialogue with
opposition groups. 

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific Aurelia Brazeal
said at the U.S.-ASEAN dialogue of senior officials that Myanmar is the
largest single producer of opium in the world and its government has been
''unwilling or unable to implement effective counter-narcotics policies.'' 

''We look to ASEAN to assist counter-narcotics efforts of member states, such
as Burma (Myanmar), who faces a particularly difficult problem in combating
drug production and trafficking,'' Brazeal said at the talks which ended
Sunday in Manila. 

Myanmar was admitted into ASEAN last July despite strong opposition from the
U.S. and European countries which criticized Yangon's human rights record. 

''We remain concerned that Burma represents a potentially destabilizing factor
for the ASEAN itself, including neighboring ASEAN member states in
particular,'' she said. 

Brazeal said the U.S. believes it crucial for the Myanmar government to begin
direct dialogue with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other
democratic and ethnic leaders. 

A joint press statement released by both sides said, ''ASEAN urged the U.S. to
remove all existing discriminatory policies against certain ASEAN member
countries,'' apparently referring to the trade sanctions against Myanmar and
residual U.S. trade prohibitions with Vietnam. 

AP-NY-05-24-98 0622EDT