Myanmar rejects "interferences" in domestic affairs

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SINGAPORE, Nov 14 (Reuters) Military-ruled Myanmar rejects ''interferences'' in its domestic affairs, citing the need to protect its sovereignty, a senior junta official said today.

Deputy Defence Minister Aye Myint told a news conference at the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting in Singapore that the former Burma was ''stable'', and that its ''home-grown principle is viable for the long-term operation of our political process''.

In September the junta crushed the biggest pro-democracy protests in nearly 20 years, killing at least 10 people, prompting international condemnation and tougher sanctions from the United States.

''We will not accept the interferences that will harm our sovereignty,'' he said.

''But we are also looking forward to the positive and constructive assistance and understanding from ASEAN countries, and all other countries from the world, and also the United Nations.'' Aye Myint said Myanmar should follow the junta's seven-step ''democracy roadmap'', which Western powers have dismissed as a sham to cement the generals' grip on power.

The 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of the few international groups to accept Myanmar as a member.

It has been criticised for failing to bring the country into the fold despite its 10-year-old policy of engaging the nation through dialogue.

Since the junta's bloody suppression of the protests, ASEAN has voiced ''revulsion'' at the military crackdown, but rejected calls to expel Myanmar from the group or to enforce sanctions, preferring to stick to its policy of engagement.

Singapore's senior minister of state for foreign affairs, Zainul Abidin Rasheed, visited Myanmar this week, and conveyed Singapore's hopes that the junta would cooperate with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari in ''genuine and serious discussions to bring about national reconciliation'', a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein is expected to travel to Singapore next week to join other ASEAN leaders in the signing ofa landmark charter that will make ASEAN more of a rules-based organisation.

''Myanmar is a member of ASEAN. Myanmar's attendance at ASEAN meetings provides a channel of communication for the exchange of views and for views to be conveyed,'' Teo Chee Hean, Singapore's defence minister said today.

REUTERS ARB RN1916

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