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NEWS UPDATES 5 July 2009

UK thanks Philippines for strong stance on Myanmar

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United Kingdom's Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Ivan Lewis has praised and thanked the Philippines for its “strong” stance in calling for political reforms in Myanmar and for pushing for a credible human rights body in the region, reported local daily the Manila Bulletin.

Lewis met on Thursday with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) headed by Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo, which the United Kingdom Embassy in Manila noted was as the first high-level bilateral talks between the UK and the Philippines.

He also expressed the British government’s openness to help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in its human rights initiatives in the region.

"The UK Government looks forward to the day when this body makes a substantive contribution towards tackling human rights abuses in the region and we stand ready to help you make that happen," the British senior official told the Philippine delegation.

The Philippines has been persistently calling on Myanmar authorities to follow the roadmap to democracy, which includes the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

“The UK is immensely grateful to the Filipino government for the leading role that [it] has played in the Asean on Burma (old name of Myanmar).

The tough statements from the Philippine Government on Aung San Suu Kyi and the position [it has] taken on the death penalty are an example to other states in the region," Lewis said in his closing statement.

Aside from the Myanmar issue, Lewis and Manalo also tackled other major issues concerning both countries, including trade, climate change, migration, and the global economy.

Lewis also expressed hopes that the Philippine government will work hand in hand with his government in pushing for an ambitious, equitable and comprehensive new international agreement to tackle climate change during the UN conference in Copenhagen.

He said the UK has pledged to work with developing countries, including the Philippines “to ensure that the voice of such countries is heard and taken into account in the run-up” to Copenhagen in December.


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