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China's Top Diplomat Skips ASEAN Forum


Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is skipping this week's security meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to travel to Burma.

Mr. Li flew to Rangoon late today-Wednesday from Laos, where the ASEAN meeting is being held. No explanation was given for Mr. Li's departure from the regional forum. When asked why he was leaving, Mr. Li said Burma is the only ASEAN member he has not visited.

The move further diminishes the ASEAN forum. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura also are skipping the session.

Burma announced on Tuesday that it would skip its planned chairmanship of the 10-member regional bloc in 2006, because of objections to its human rights record.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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