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Europe, Asia Talking About Burma - 2003-07-22


European and Asian nations are trying to narrow differences over how to criticize Burma's military government for the continued detention of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Foreign ministers from the two regions are meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Diplomats who spoke to reporters say the Europeans want a strong condemnation of Burma, while the Asians want to keep the criticism more low-key.

Delegates from 10 Asian countries and the 15 European Union members begin two days of formal talks on Wednesday. Burma is not attending the meeting.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai says his nation is committed to helping bring about national reconciliation in Burma. Mr. Surakiart called on Western countries to work with Thailand in that effort.

The prime ministers of Thailand and Malaysia have differed publicly over what actions to take against Burma.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says Burma's ruling military should be given more time to seek reconciliation. But Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Burma could face expulsion from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations if Aung San Suu Kyi is not released.

The leader of the National League for Democracy has not been seen in public since she was detained by Burma's military authorities at the end of May.

Burma's ruling generals have rejected repeated calls and mounting international pressure for her release.

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