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Malaysia minister says Myanmar mission incomplete

Written by: Staff
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KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 28 (Reuters) Malaysia feels its fact-finding mission to military-ruled Myanmar is incomplete because of the failure to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Malaysia's foreign minister today said.

Syed Hamid Albar visited Myanmar last week on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has voiced frustration at what it calls the slow pace of democratic reform in Myanmar.

''This is incomplete until I am able to see every stakeholder,'' Syed Hamid told reporters, confirming that Suu Kyi was one of the stakeholders he needed to hear from.

He also said Myanmar would pass up its turn to chair the 10-member ASEAN grouping after the Philippines, which begins its tenure in the chair from July this year.

Pressed by ASEAN, Myanmar had already skipped its turn to chair the grouping this year, stepping aside in favour of the Philippines.

''I asked them whether they are ready to take over ASEAN after the Philippines ... they say they will not be ready as yet because they want their capital, Naypyidaw, to be ready,'' Syed Hamid said.

ASEAN admitted Myanmar into its ranks in 1997 in hopes that engagement and investment would help bring about reform. The strategy looked to pay off in 2003 when the junta produced a seven-step ''roadmap to democracy'', including eventual elections.

But the military, which has ruled the former Burma since 1962, says it is still only midway through the first step, drafting a new constitution, and will not set a timetable.

REUTERS SB KP1030

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