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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chinese Premier Raises Border Stability at Asean Summit

By WAI MOE



CHA-AM, Thailand—China’s Premier Wen Jiabao talked with his Burmese counterpart Gen Thein Sein about stability and peace along the Sino-Burmese border during the Asean-China Summit, which met in conjunction with the 15th Asean Summit on Saturday in Cha-am, Thailand.

Wen told Thein Sein that Beijing “hopes that the Burmese regime will achieve stability, national reconciliation and development” in Burma, according to the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site.

Wen said that the Sino-Burma relationship is conducive to “regional peace and development,” while pledging development aid to Burma.

To inject “new vitality” in bilateral relations, China will provide support and assistance to strengthen the economy and trade, infrastructure, utilities, energy and other areas, Wen said.

Wen and Thein Sein’s meeting on Saturday was the highest level contact since 37,000 Kokang Chinese refugees in Burma fled to China in September, following a government military offensive against the Kokang ethnic militias in northeastern Burma. At least two Chinese citizens were reportedly killed, and there was widespread looting by government troops of property owned by Chinese citizens.

Wen attended the Asean-China Summit as well as the East Asia Summit (EAS) along with heads of state from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

The EAS chairman statement called for a free, fair and inclusive election in 2010 in Burma.

“We encouraged the Myanmar [Burma] government to ensure the implementation of the Seven-Step Roadmap to Democracy,” the statement said.

The Asean and the EAS chairman statements over the weekend did not mention the release of Burmese political prisoners including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Asean-member countries called for the release of all political prisoners at the 14th Asean Summit in late February and at the Asean Regional Forum in July.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejijjiva said at a press conference on Sunday that Burmese issues were discussed at the Asean and two other summits throughout the weekend.

He said Thein Sein told leaders at the summits that Suu Kyi was a part of the process of national reconciliation.

Japan, under the new administration of the Democratic Party of Japan, raised the issue of Burma’s democratization process at the Asean + 3 Summit and the East Asia Summit, according to Kazuo Kodama, a Japan foreign ministry spokesman.

Kodama said Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told his Burma counterpart that Japan hoped all stakeholders in Burma’s democratization process would be included in the 2010 elections.

Kodama said Japan, during its meeting with junta officials, called for the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners before the election.

Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win met with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Cambodia in early October, and he told Okada that Suu Kyi would be released before her current 18-month house arrest term expires, Kodama said.

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