ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Myanmar wants 2014 chairmanship
Myanmar skipped its turn to chair Asean in 2006 due to international pressure for democratic reforms, but only on condition that it could ask to lead the group when it felt it was ready.
The country's president Thein Sein met President Yudhoyono -- both former generals -- in Jakarta on Thursday on what is his first trip abroad as president since he was sworn in on March 30.
Current Asean chair Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa confirmed Myanmar's request would be discussed but suggested that a decision would be deferred until the country's "readiness" for the job could be assessed.
The military-led nation is a constant source of embarrassment for Asean's more democratic states, trumping other problem members such as communist Vietnam and Laos, which have significant human rights issues of their own.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November shortly after an election, the country's first in 20 years that led to the handover of power from the military to a nominally civilian government.
Her release was welcomed worldwide, but Western governments that impose sanctions on Myanmar want the new government to do more to demonstrate its commitment to human rights. NGOs say that giving Myanmar the seat would make Asean a “laughing stock.”
The latest reports from Jakarta indicate that Myanmar will not be given the seat in 2014. Its regular turn comes up in 2016.
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