Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Asem Foreign Ministers Issue Statement on Suu Kyi


Asian and European Union foreign ministers concluded a two-day meeting in Hanoi on Tuesday with a statement calling on Burma’s junta to release detained political prisoners, as international pressure mounts on the regime over its trial and detention of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

“In light of the concern about the recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ministers ... called for the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restrictions placed on political parties,” said the chair’s statement issued at the end of the annual Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) of foreign ministers from the two regions.

Asem groups the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) with the EU, China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India. Burma is a member of Asean.

According to reports from Hanoi, the statement also reaffirmed the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar [Burma]” and stated that the “future of Myanmar lies in the hands of all its people.”

In their statement, the foreign ministers called on Burma to prepare for and conduct elections scheduled for next year “in a free and fair manner.”

They also encouraged the government to engage “all stakeholders in an inclusive process in order to achieve national reconciliation and economic and social development,” and called on the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to Burma.

The statement came a day after Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win met with his counterparts from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Japan.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the rotating chair of the EU, pressed for Suu Kyi’s release in his talks with Nyan Win.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone also raised the issue of Suu Kyi’s treatment during the meeting.

According to a Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson, Nakasone stressed that this is “a very important period for Myanmar’s democratization” and that the junta should “respond in an appropriate manner to the voices of the international community.”

Nyan Win declined to make any comment.

The Burma issue will be at the top of the agenda of the Asean-EU meeting in Phnom Penh on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Asem foreign ministers also condemned North Korea’s second nuclear test, urging Pyongyang to refrain from future tests and calling on the country to return to the Six-Party Talks process.

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