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Burma Downplays Concern Over Future Role In ASEAN


Burma's prime minister has downplayed concerns that his country's lack of progress on democratic reforms and human rights will tarnish its leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.

Asked during his visit to Vietnam Thursday about those concerns, Prime Minister Soe Win sent an optimistic signal that such issues could be overcome, saying it will all be okay.

But he gave no assurances about the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi or about other human rights reforms.

The foreign ministers of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore have urged Burma to implement democratic reforms or risk losing its turn at the ASEAN chairmanship.

ASEAN has Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as members.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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