The European Union's trade chief says Burma's poor human rights record may be an obstacle to efforts to forge a free-trade pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Speaking in the Philippines Monday, Peter Mandelson says he does not want to see Southeast Asia as a whole held back because of Burma's refusal to better its rights record.
He said the EU will have to find a way to deal with the issue that will enable negotiations on an agreement.
Mandelson says he will meet with ASEAN trade ministers on Tuesday to assess the potential for a free-trade agreement.
Burma's military government has been criticized for suppressing democracy, and abuses against the Karen, one of the country's largest ethnic minorities.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.