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July 19, 2008

41st Asean Ministerial Meeting:
Malaysia: Agreement on Asean human rights issue unlikely

The Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting in Singapore next week is unlikely to reach an agreement on the inclusion of the human rights clause in the Asean Charter, Bernama news agency quoted Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim as saying Friday.

"The meeting from July 20 to 24 will concentrate on human rights under the Asean Charter, the definition of human rights, its scope and so on. The concept of human rights itself is wide and there are a few important questions that need to be answered.

"What I would like to stress is the need to include the eastern values in the clause. For example, respecting an elder and religious values are important to us in Asia. We can't take the Universal Human Rights Declaration as a whole and apply it here," he said.

Other important Asian tenets must also be included in the Asean Human Rights charter, he said, adding: "I don't think an agreement on the matter would be reached at this meeting."

He said the human rights issue needed further delibration by the 10 member states of the grouping before it could be accepted under the Charter.

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