French President Jacques Chirac will not attend Thursday's ceremony welcoming Burma to the Asia-Europe Meeting in Vietnam.
A French presidential spokesman says Mr. Chirac will instead be inspecting an archeological site in central Vietnam as he wraps up a two-day state visit to the country.
The spokesman did not say why Mr. Chirac declined to attend the ceremony, but experts believe French officials are concerned an appearance might imply that Mr. Chirac welcomes Burma's military government.
The Asia-Europe Meeting, which begins Friday, nearly collapsed due to a dispute over Burma's participation. European Union countries agreed to attend the Hanoi summit if Burma sends a low-level delegation.
Information for this report is provided by AFP.