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ASEAN Says It Must Be Responsible for Burma


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations says it needs to take responsibility for handling member Burma, which is facing international demands to enact democratic reforms.

ASEAN closed its annual summit in the Philippines today, issuing a statement encouraging military-ruled Burma to preserve the group's credibility as an effective regional organization.

ASEAN leaders called on Burma to make greater progress towards national reconciliation by releasing political prisoners and holding talks with all political parties.

Officials close to the summit say Philippine President Gloria Arroyo took a stronger stance during a meeting with Burmese Prime Minister Soe Win.

Officials say Mrs. Arroyo called for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for more than half of the past 17 years.

ASEAN's statement is the first collective call to action on Burma since the United States failed to pass a draft resolution in the United Nations calling on Burma's government to free prisoners and move toward democracy.

China and Russia vetoed the resolution at the UN Security Council last week, saying Burma does not threaten global
security.

Malaysia's prime minister Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi praised Russia and China Saturday for vetoing the resolution, saying the Security Council is not the proper place to discuss Burma.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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