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AFP-EU hints at compromise with ASE

Subject: AFP-EU hints at compromise with ASEAN on Myanmar, Yangon welcomes

UN mission
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EU hints at compromise with ASEAN on Myanmar, Yangon welcomes UN mission
SINGAPORE, July 28 (AFP) - The European Union (EU) Wednesday hinted at a
possible compromise with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
on Myanmar, as the army-ruled nation confirmed it will receive a special UN
A deal between the EU and ASEAN on the prickly Myanmar issue would allow the
foreign ministers from the two blocs to resume cooperation talks stalled by
European pressure for democratic reforms to be carried out by Myanmar.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama told a news conference at the end of
annual meetings between ASEAN and its top global partners that the EU was
"making an evaluation" following a recent mission to military-ruled Myanmar.

"We are assessing the problem on the European Union side and we have a
prospect for having some evolution regarding the possibility of restoring
the ministerial meetings," Gama said.

"Let's work on that, and our impression during these meetings in Singapore
is also that ASEAN is taking very seriously this problem, and is also making
decisive progress regarding internal political dialogue as far as Myanmar is
concerned," he added.

In July, a four-man team representing Finland, Portugal, the EU secretariat
and the European Commission traveled to Yangon to hold sensitive talks with
powerful junta First Secretary Khin Nyunt, and opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The EU delegation to the ASEAN
meetings here was led by Finland's Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen and Gama.

Finland took over the EU's six-month rotating presidency from Germany at the
start of July and will be replaced by Portugal next January.

The EU and the United States were strongly opposed to Myanmar joining ASEAN
in July 1997, citing gross human rights abuses and its refusal to recognise
the result of a 1990 election won by the opposition National League for

Myanmar officials face a visa ban in Europe under EU restrictions imposed to
punish alleged human rights violations.

The sanctions were first applied in 1996 and effectively blocked ASEAN from
attending ministerial talks in Europe.

At the same ASEAN news conference addressed by Portugal's Gama on Wednesday,
Myanmar Foreign Minister Win Aung confirmed a special UN mission will visit
his country, but said it was still unclear whether the World Bank will join

Win Aung gave no specific dates but appeared to confirm that the mission led
by senior envoy Alvaro de Soto would arrive in September.

Asked if Myanmar had agreed to a definite date for a UN and World Bank
mission in September, he said: "We have planned this trip a long time ago
and because of the convenience of the dates of the timing to visit our
country ... there will be a visit," he said.

"Whether someone from the World Bank will be accompanying Mr. de Soto or not
is the decision of the World Bank and the United Nations," he said.

"If so and when they come, of course we will discuss about the possibilities
in many many fields," he said.

The Myanmar minister laid down conditions for cooperation with Aung San Suu
Kyi, the Nobel peace prize winner and daughter of Myanmar's independence
hero Aung San.

"We need to have good common ground to stand together."

"Good common ground means that if one side is having the confrontation and
devastation policy towards another, then it is difficult. We are waiting to
see the condition where there will be a common ground to stand together," he

He said Myanmar was busy "patching up our nation, because we have a lot of
sufferings since our independence in 1948 up to now" and appealed for
understanding of his country's situation.