November 19, 2007
ASEAN SUMMIT : Myanmar Crisis
Myanmar crisis to dominate ASEAN summit
Myanmar has often been compared to a relative of questionable character, an embarrassing intrusion at family get-togethers.
Bereft of friends and reviled by many, Myanmar is set to spoil the party again.
The recent crackdown by the country's military junta on peaceful pro-democracy protesters will figure prominently at an annual summit this week of Asian leaders, much to the chagrin of its colleagues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the region's main political and economic bloc.
After a series of ministerial-level meetings, ASEAN leaders will hold their summit Tuesday, followed by a tete-a-tete with leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand in the so-called East Asia Summit on Wednesday.
Host Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo said the ASEAN leaders' informal dinner Monday will be "the critical meeting" for adopting a common position on Myanmar.
"That's a family dinner, there will be no officials present; there will be no closed-circuit television. It's just the leaders meeting among themselves. We expect Myanmar to be discussed at that meeting," he said.
The 10-nation ASEAN is under tremendous pressure from its trading partners, the US and Europe, over Myanmar. US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who will meet with ASEAN economic ministers Monday, will underscore Washington's concerns over the junta's "failure to make a serious commitment ... to civilian democratic rule," the US Embassy said in a statement.
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