Officials in the Philippines say Burma's military leader, General Than Shwe, will not attend an annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this month in Manila.
Authorities in Manila said today the Burmese leader informed them he will not attend the three-day ASEAN summit beginning December 11th because he is focusing on drafting Burma's new constitution. This is the second year in a row the Burmese leader has decided not to attend the organization's summit, instead sending a representative.
Burma is under international pressure to speed up the pace of democratic reform. The country says it is working to construct a long-delayed constitution that reflects a "road map to democracy," but little progress has been made.
The opposition National League for Democracy is boycotting the constitutional talks to protest the house arrest of party leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Information for this report is provided by Reuters.