No support to sanctions on Myanmar: S'pore PM

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Singapore, Nov 18: Nobody in Asia supports sanctions against Myanmar, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared ahead of the ASEAN summit.

In an interview to the media, the Prime Minister yesterday revealed that Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein had agreed for UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari to brief the East Asian Summit leaders about his visit to Myanmar this week.

Myanmar wants to isolate itself but the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) has been trying to get it to open up.

Mr Loong was yesterday reported by international media as opposing the sanctions against Myanmar.

He said the sanctions resulted in pain to the poor and helpless who were already suffering, and not to the leadership. The sanctions did not even encourage the leadership to work out arrangements for reconciliation, he added.

''Regime change sounds good as a slogan but I don't think it's that good as a policy. It's been tried in Iraq and nobody wants to have an Iraq in Southeast Asia,'' he said.

Despite the Myanmar crackdown, Mr Lee was confident that ASEAN would continue working closely with the signing of the ASEAN Charter and the Economic Blueprint, which aimed at having a significant economic community by 2015.

''The world is changing very fast. The Chinese are not waiting for you; they are growing 10 to 12 per cent every year. The Indians are also growing 9 to 10 per cent annually. And if we don't get our act together and have a significant economic community within (the region) by 2015, I think we're going to be in trouble,''he said.

''We can talk about being the centre of Asia and the hub of Asian cooperation, but people aren't going to pay attention to us because the substance won't be there. So we have to make it by 2015,'' he emphasised.


UNI

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