Thursday, July 23, 2009

US urges Burma to boycott North Korea

(DVB)–The United States has said that Burma should implement a UN resolution imposing an arms embargo on North Korea as one precursor of increased US engagement with Burma.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently in Thailand at the 27-state ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which is also attended by North Korea and China.

An anonymous US State Department official told Reuters today that the US had urged Burma to become party to a United Nations resolution that bans all North Korean arms exports.

The resolution was adopted following North Korea’s nuclear test in May, and includes an authorization allowing member states to inspect all transportation carrying North Korean exports.

The comments follow concerns voiced by Clinton yesterday that strengthening ties between Burma and North Korea could include trade in nuclear material and information.

Fears over Burma’s nuclear ambitions stem largely from an incident last month in which a North Korean ship being tracked by the US navy on suspicion that it was carrying weaponry appeared to be heading towards Burma, before turning around.

Both Burma and North Korea are likely to feature highly on the agenda of the ARF, which is now in its second day on the Thailand island of Phuket.

Clinton yesterday met with students and social assistance groups in Bangkok prior to traveling to Phuket.

Dr Cynthia Maung, who operates the Mae Tao charity clinic in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot, was among the activists attending the meeting.

According to Cynthia Maung, Clinton said that there should be greater awareness of the links between North Korea and Burma, and their potential dealings in nuclear weaponry.

“[Clinton] said that China, which is close to North Korea, should help bring this under control,” she said.

“She also pointed out that the Southeast Asian nations have a responsibility on tackling human right abuses in Burma, and that the US will be cooperating with [regional countries]."

Reporting by Francis Wade and Khin Hnin Htet

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