Australia rejects Myanmar ambassador nomination

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CANBERRA, Oct 2 (Reuters) Australia has rejected Myanmar's nomination of an army general as envoy to Canberra in response to the crackdown on Buddhist monks and pro-democracy supporters in the country, the Australian government said today.

Brigadier-General Thura U Thet Oo Maung, a former member of the Myanmar Army Command, was nominated several months ago to fill the vacant ambassador position at the heavily protected mission near Australia's parliament.

''We made it clear to the Burmese that under no circumstances were we going to have somebody from their military regime as an ambassador, as a representative, here in Australia,'' Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told local radio.

Downer said such a rejection was extremely rare, but Canberra wanted to make a point to the former Burma's ruling generals that the biggest crackdown for 20 years was unacceptable behaviour.

''It's a very rare case and we rejected the nomination,'' he said.

Australia's foreign ministry last week summoned Myanmar's caretaker ambassador to protest against the suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in the southeast Asian country.

Australia has financial sanctions and visa restrictions on members of Myanmar's government. Its imports from Myanmar in 2006 totalled A million (.8 million), while exports -- mainly-wheat -- were worth A million.

Reuters MP VP0727

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