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Subject: News on THE ASIAN AGE (NEW DELHI), 16/2/97

The Asian Age (New Delhi)
1). Burmese troops fire mortars at Karen rebels, Rebels remain defiant, 
vow to regroup
2). Thailand hopes Suu Kyi will soften her stand
Burmese troops fire mortars at Karen rebels, Rebels remain defiant, vow 
to regroup
Um Phanang (Thailand), Feb. 15: Burmese government troops fired mortars 
on Saturday around the area of a captured rebel headquarters as tensions 
remained high along Burma's rugged border with Thailand.
Ethnic Karen guerrillas who slipped across the border to buy food from 
Thai villagers said that they would not engage the larger Burmese force 
head-on and had not returned the mortar fire.
About 20 mortar rounds were fired from the area around Teakaplaw, the 
jungle headquarters of the Karen National Union that the Burmese Army 
overran on Thursday after the rebels abandoned and set fire to it, Thai 
Border Police said.
The fall of the base was the biggest defeat for the rebels since the 
Burmese Army captured their long-time headquarters of Manerplaw in 
December 1994. The current offensive by an estimated 5,000 troops in the 
region follows a series of failed peace talks with the military regime.
But the Karens, who have battled Burma's central government for more 
autonomy since 1949, say they have shifted to guerrilla tactics since the 
loss of Manerplaw and that the fall of their base this week was not as 
"We have been attacked seriously by Burmese forces, but we're OK," said 
Htay Aung, 28, a Karen fighter. In the past when they took Manerplaw, it 
was very bad, but this time our spirits are high. We can survive."
Htay Aung and a comrade said they left their position around Teakaplaw 
early on Saturday and crossed the Thai border to buy food, dried noodles 
and fish and high-vitamin drinks for their 11-man section.
They told the associated press that they had about 300 troops in the 
area, broken down into small units that would try to regroup when the 
Burmese eased the pressure, (AP)
Thailand hopes Suu Kyi will soften her stand
The Asian Age (New Delhi)
Singapore, Feb. 15: Thailand on Saturday struck back at western criticism 
of Asia's Burma policy and said the West should ask Burmese Opposition 
leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi to soften her position against Rangoon's military 
"The West should also talk to Aung Sun Suu Kyi to tone down her position" 
and encourage her to rejoin efforts to draft a new Burmese Constitution, 
said Thai foreign minister Prachuah Chaiyasarn.
He was responding to questions from reporters during Saturday's 
Asia-Europe Meeting, which has drawn together foreign ministers from 10 
Asian countries and the 15-member European Union.
The Thai minister said the seven-member Association of Southeast Asian 
Nations -- which will admit Burma as a member -- did not feel pressured 
to ask Rangoon to improve its human rights record before accepting it 
into the grouping.
He said western nations which apply such pressure also should talk to 
Aung Sun Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who heads Burma's 
National League for Democracy.
"Everybody, has their own connections and if all of them share the 
responsibility on this particular issue then it will be very much 
welcome," he said.
The ministers in Saturday's meeting were expected to tackle the touchy 
issue of whether Burma, whose leaders are banned from visiting EU 
nations, can join the Asia-Europe summit after it joins ASEAN.
European nations participating in the meeting, as well as the two-day 
ASEAN-EU meeting which preceded it, have raised concerns about Burma's 
human rights record and its crackdown on the opposition. ASEAN supports a 
policy of "constructive engagement" and does not want to isolate Rangoon.