Differences among ASEAN nations on Myanmar situation

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Singapore, Nov 21 (UNI) Differences among the ASEAN nations came to the fore last night when ten heads of governments aborted a briefing by UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari on the Myanmar situation after Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein strongly opposed the move.

It was Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's proposal to the ASEAN leaders to get a briefing from Prof Gambari on the current political turmoil in Myanmar and efforts intiated by the UN to start reconciliation process between the military junta and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, the Myanmar Prime Minister took a tough stand and stated that ''it is a matter between Myanmar and Prof Gambari''. The grouping has no role in it.

Gen Thein Sein also briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the latest political developments in his country as well as steps taken by his regime to conclude reconciliation process there.

Dr Singh said that ''reform process should be broad based'', involving Ms Kyi and other ethnic nationalities and it should be carried forward expeditiously towards a satisfactory conclusion.

India, like China, favours a cautious approach towards Myanmar.

Dr Singh feared that insurgent groups in North East may take advantage of instability in Myanmar and indulge in unlawful activities in the region.

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia indirectly supported the move by Myanmar stating that ''if one of our members is objecting'', it is useless to hold such a briefing.

However, the special envoy, who hails from Nigeria, met six ASEAN Foreign Ministers before dinner and exchanged views with them on the political upheaval in Myanmar.

The Myanmar Prime Minister categorically stated that ''there was no need for Prof Gambari to brief the ASEAN or East Asia Summit.

Every ASEAN nation is a member of the UN. If they wanted his report, they can ask their envoys to the UN to get a report.'' Meanwhile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand suggested that Myanmar issue cannot be considered as a domestic matter.

UNI

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