Tue 28 Sep 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
September 27: Yangon: Myanmar will not send its top leaders to an Asia-Europe summit in Vietnam next month in a move likely to avert a diplomatic crisis over the military regime.
The EU had threatened to boycott the October 8-9 meeting because of the presence of the junta but after a round of talks finally agreed to turn up if the junta sent a lower-level delegation.
The Myanmar team will include the deputy foreign minister Colonel Maung Myint and possibly the new foreign minister Major-General Nyan Win, currently in the United States for the UN general assembly, according to a ministry source.
“They will send a lower level delegation to ASEM,” the source told AFP.
The two men were promoted this month in a reshuffle that strengthened the role of military hardliners in the regime’s cabinet.
The EU has also threatened to tighten existing sanctions unless Yangon took steps to improve its human rights record including the release of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, currently more than a year into her third period of house arrest.
The European Union has a package of sanctions in place against Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962, including a freeze on Myanmar assets.
But if there is no progress by October 8 the EU is planning to tighten them, notably by extending a visa ban to army officers, voting against funding for Myanmar in global financial bodies and cutting investment in state firms.
The ASEM summit gathers the EU and 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and South Korea.