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Malaysian FM Says Burma Must Reform in Exchange for ASEAN Support


Malaysia's foreign minister says Southeast Asia cannot defend Burma indefinitely unless it shows progress toward democratic reform, and releases democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

Syed Hamid Albar said Tuesday the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations has not received any new indications that Burma is taking steps to restore democracy.

He says Malaysia has asked Burma's military government to move forward with their democratization process, and to release Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Albar made his comments ahead of this month's annual ministerial level ASEAN meeting.

After visiting Burma on an ASEAN mission earlier this year (April), Albar said the organization feels Burma is dragging it down because of Rangoon's reluctance to reform.

The Burmese government has not commented.

ASEAN comprises Malaysia, Burma, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Brunei. The organization has a policy of non-interference in the affairs of member nations.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the last 16 years under house arrest. She is the leader of Burma's opposition National League for Democracy, which won parliamentary elections in 1990, but was never allowed to take power. More than 100 of the NLD's senior leaders are in prison.

Burma's military government has promised democratic reforms, but there have been few signs of change.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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