Burma's military rulers have restated their intention to eventually bring democracy to the Southeast Asian country, as the United States intensifies pressure on Rangoon to move forward now.
A Burmese government statement distributed Thursday says the nation is at crossroads that will lead to a better future for its 52-million people. The statement says the process of building democracy in Burma is a complex and difficult one that will require patience and wisdom.
Rangoon's continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has drawn widespread condemnation, both from within and outside the region. However, Burma's neighbors--including Thailand--have applauded the military government's so-called "roadmap" for establishing democracy.
President Bush is expected to bring up Burma's lack of democracy when he gets to Thailand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. A leading Thai newspaper, the Nation, said in an editorial Thursday that Southeast Asian leaders can expect what it called a "tongue-lashing" from Mr. Bush over the issue of Burma.
The United States, Japan and the European Union have tightened economic sanctions on Rangoon since last May, when Aung San Suu Kyi was detained.
Burma's road map to democracy was unveiled in late August, but military leaders have given no timetable for the process.
Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AFP.