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ASEAN Unable to Force Reform on Burma


Singapore's prime minister has told a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-ASEAN that there is little that can be done to force the Burmese government to reform.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged that Burma presented a problem for ASEAN, but he said that the group had little leverage over its government.

ASEAN applies a non-interference policy to members' domestic politics.

But the issue of Burma has become an obstacle to the group's attempts to strengthen economic ties with the European Union.

A group of ASEAN lawmakers recently criticized Burma's human rights record and demanded that the military government release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi when her house arrest term expired on May 27th.

But Burmese authorities ignored appeals from the international community and Burmese protests and instead extended the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's house arrest for another year.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained without a trial for 11 of the past 17 years.

Burma's military government has consistently extended her house arrest since she was last detained in 2003.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won in 1990 elections. But Burma's government has refused to recognize the results and has prevented the NLD from taking office.

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