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ASEAN wants Burma to join it (The T
Subject: ASEAN wants Burma to join it (The Times of India, 1/12/96.)
ASEAN wants Burma to join it
The Times of India, 1/12/96.
By Joe McDonald
JAKARTA: Under pressure to isolate Burma's military rulers,
Southeast Asian nations affirmed on Saturday that they want
the country to join their alliance but didn't say when.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations took the step to avoid a clash with
western allies. President Clinton singled out the Burmese
generals for criticism during a visit to the region this week.
Burma overshadowed trade and other issues during an informal,
one-day meeting of ASEAN leaders, who say they eventually
want the group to include every country in Southeast Asia.
In what may have been a face-saving gesture, diplomats said the
leaders agreed Burma won't be admitted until Cambodia and
Laos, the only other countries that aren't members are ready to
join. All three governments have observer status in the group.
They said that as a matter of principle, "all 10 nations (in
Southeast Asia) should join," said Kobsak Chutikul, director-
general of the Thai foreign ministry's economic department.
"But they did not go so far as to say when," Kobsak said,
quoting Thai deputy prime minister Arnnuay Viravon. "It could
go either way. Next year, maybe they all join, or something else
happens and they have to wait."
Diplomats said isolated, impoverished Burma still has to show it
can take part in a regional free-trade area and other ASEAN co-
ASEAN members, Thailand and the Philippines have argued for
a delay on those technical grounds. But as the two most
democratic governments in the region, they also are believed to
be uneasy about Burma's suppression of a pro-democracy
movement led by Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.