Monday, 6 September 2010

Burmese FM to Attend US-Asean Summit

Burma's Foreign Minister Nyan Win will attend the US-Asean summit convened by President Obama later this month in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

The White House on Friday announced that Obama will host a meeting with leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). Obama has invited the leaders of the 10 Asean member states as well the Asean secretary-general to join him for the second ever US-Asean leaders' meeting, it said.

Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win attends the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Informal Consultations in Hanoi in July. (Photo: Reuters)
Confirming that the top Burmese leader will not be attending the meeting, a senior US official said that no direct invitation was sent to Burma.
“The invitation went to the Asean chair [Vietnam], so we did not address an invitation to Burma directly,” the official told The Irrawaddy. “The Burmese have decided to send their foreign minister, Nyan Win.”

The White House said, at the first such meeting, held in Singapore in November 2009, Obama and the Asean leaders pledged to deepen cooperation in a number of areas of common concern, including trade and investment, regional security, disaster management, food and energy security, and climate change.

“The President looks forward to working with the leaders to assess the progress on these issues, to identify future efforts to strengthen US-Asean relations, and discuss multilateral approaches for greater regional cooperation,” the White House said.

It is understood that Obama will discuss the upcoming election in Burma, which the US has said lacks credibility.

Of late, the Obama administration has shown signs of adopting a stronger position against Burma; given that a year ago it had adopted a new policy of simultaneous engagement with and economic sanctions on Burma.

The US had two rounds of talks with the military junta, however top US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressed frustration over the response of the junta toward a credible and transparent election and the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

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