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23 August 2009

Myanmar’s commitment on N Korea sanctions under watch

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Washington was monitoring Myanmar's stated commitment to enforcing UN sanctions on North Korea, after reports of possible nuclear cooperation between the Asian nations, AFP quoted a top US diplomat as saying Friday.

Last month US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed a pledge by military-ruled Myanmar to abide by a UN resolution on the sanctions, following a rare meeting between US and Myanmar officials at an Asian summit.

But reports in recent weeks have said that Pyongyang is helping Myanmar to build a secret nuclear reactor and plutonium extraction plant, and to build an atomic bomb within five years, causing regional concerns.

"The Burmese government did make a commitment during the course of the ARF (Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum) meetings in Phuket to implement the resolution," Ambassador Philip Goldberg, the US coordinator for the implementation of recent UN sanctions on Pyongang, said in Bangkok.

"We hope and expect that that will be the case but it is something that will require further discussion," he told reporters. US officials refer to Myanmar by its former name, Burma.

Goldberg was in Bangkok as part of an Asian trip aimed at strengthening support for the UN Security Council resolution passed in July in response to North Korea's May 25 underground nuclear test and subsequent missile firings.

The expanded sanctions include tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned missile and nuclear-related items, a tighter arms embargo and new targeted financial curbs to choke off revenue for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile sectors.

Goldberg said Myanmar also had an obligation to adhere to the sanctions resolution because it was a member of the United Nations.

"We will continue to verify that everybody has been abiding by that obligation," Goldberg said.

Suspicions about Myanmar and North Korea escalated in June after a US Navy destroyer began tracking a suspect North Korean ship reportedly heading for Myanmar. The ship eventually turned back to North Korea.

Goldberg also reiterated comments made in Singapore urging Southeast Asian financial institutions to remain vigilant in monitoring transactions that could boost North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes.

He is later due to head to South Korea and Japan. He has already travelled to Malaysia, China, Russia and the United Nations to coordinate global efforts to implement the sanctions.


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