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Malaysia Urges Rice to Attend ASEAN


Malaysia's foreign minister is urging U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to change her plans and attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos later this month.

Syed Hamid Albar says Ms. Rice's absence from the ASEAN Regional Forum-ARF would be perceived as a snub, and a sign that Washington does not take the region seriously in terms of economic and security issues.

U.S. officials say Ms. Rice will not attend the ASEAN meeting because she will traveling to focus on issues relating to the Middle East.

Some analysts believe she is skipping the conclave in an attempt to pressure ASEAN to deny Burma its rotating leadership of the 10-member grouping if it fails to implement democratic reforms.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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