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POSTED 12 FEB 99, 6:00AM

[ADDED NOTE: There have been clear signs of the international
community's hardening mood against the Burmese military junta,
particularly  since the mass detention of elected-MPs last September.
The military junta's repression on the opposition is also effecting the
well-beings of ASEAN member states.

Like normal human conducts, when Burma as a country joins ASEAN, there
have to be the gives-and-takes and also the rights and responsibilities.
We've seen that, soon after Burma joining ASEAN in 1997, General Than
Shwe visited 'ALL' ASEAN countries as the 'Head of State' (with proper
pomps, of course). Such is the kind of  favour, being granted by the
ASEAN States, towards Burma  that has already been used by Burmese
leaders to promote their own respectability (and legitimacy).

In return, Burma as a member state of ASEAN has the responsibility to
look after the well-being of  that organisation. The issue of Burmese
military junta crackdown on the opposition is the greatest obstacle
between EU and ASEAN. Therefore, the junta must release all detained MPs
unconditionally, as a responsible member of the ASEAN.

Unless a member can observe this kind of gives-and-takes/rights&
responsibilities regarding with the organisation,  there is no point
keeping that member inside that organisation. Of course, none of the
ASEAN States are in the position to put motion to expel Burma. However,
if the Burmese cannot solve their own domestic crisis, the Burmese junta
must take the responsibility and  better to withdraw Burma from the
ASEAN membership.--- With best regards, U Ne Oo.]

AFP: 11-FEB-99

BANGKOK, Feb 10 AFP - Burma could break the deadlock threatening a key
meeting between ASEAN and the EU with a human rights "gesture" such as
the release of political prisoners, a senior diplomat said today.

But junta officials in Rangoon, responding to Britain's earlier pledge
not to sit alongside Burmese delegates, said the ministerial summit
looked doomed.

"Since the ASEAN-EU foreign ministers meeting is a bloc-to-bloc meeting,
we believe that there is very little chance that the meeting will take
place given the stand taken by some EU members," a junta statement
received here said.

The European Union was looking for real improvements in human rights
before it would allow Burma to attend the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations-EU summit scheduled to be held in Berlin next month, the
European diplomat said.

"We acknowledge (the the juntahas expressed its willingness to discuss
human rights in Berlin) but there have been these detentions lately of
opposition people," said the diplomat.

"We would like to see some gesture inside the country. It would be very
welcome to have some kind of gesture from Myanmar(Burma) on the
humanitarian side."

Hundreds of members of the opposition National League for Democracy(NLD)
party, led by Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, have been
detained in recent months in what democracy advocates call the biggest
crackdown on dissent since the junta brutally crushed a student movement
in 1988.

the ruling military council refuses to recognise the landslide victory
for the NLD in 1990 elections and has ignored recent calls for
parliament to be convened.

The military, which has been in power in one form or another since 1962,
flatly ednies widespread allegations of serious abuses of human rights,
such as torture and the imprisonment of opposition supporters.

Britain this week said a core of EU members, including Denmark and
Sweden, would refuse to sit down in Berlin with ministers from Burma.

ASEAN sources said the move represented a hardening in teh EU stance
against Burma and a blow to the spirit of compromise required to keep
inter-bloc dialogue alive.

"Compromise means that each side has to talk and soften its position,"
one Asian official close to the talks said.

"We understand the EU's position on Burma but they have to look at what
they're doing in a bloc-to-bloc framework."

The European diplomat said that even with a humanitarian gesture,
Burma's acceptance at the meeting would be in doubt. Unanimity is
required for Burma to attend, so a stand by just one of the 15 EU
nations could force the summit's cancellation.

But the envoy here siad the EU valued its relations with ASEAN and talks
were still underway to resolve the deadlock.

"I do not think there has been any hardening in the EU line. We want the
dialogue between the EU and ASEAN," he said.

"The meeting has not been postponed and we are not at a deadend."

A row over Burma's status caused the cancellation of a lower-level
ASEAN-EU meeting in Bangkok last month.

Other European diplomatic sources said the Berlin meeting had exposed
two EU approaches to Burma -- one seeing it as a pariah state and the
other looking for compromise.

Disagreements over Burma have soured relations between the EU and the
Association of Southeast ASian Nations(ASEAN) for several years.

The EU and the United States staunchly opposed Burma's entry into ASEAN
in 1997. ASEAN argued political change in Burma was more likely to arise
from constructive debate rather than punitive sanctions.

AFP sco


EMAILS: drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx, uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
POSTMAIL: Dr U Ne Oo, 18 Shannon Place, Adelaide SA 5000, AUSTRALIA

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