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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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CORRECTED: ASEAN divided over inclusion of U.S. in envisaged E. Asia community+

community+ (AP) - HUA HIN, Thailand, Oct. 25 (Kyodo)—Leaders of the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are divided over whether the United States should be included in an East Asian community as envisaged by Japan's new leader Yukio Hatoyama, senior ASEAN officials said Sunday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as of this juncture, half of ASEAN members favor inclusion of the United States and the other oppose it.

Hatoyama said Saturday in a 13-nation summit meeting with ASEAN leaders and those from China and South Korea, held at Thailand's seaside resort of Hua Hin, that he favors U.S. involvement in the envisioned community for closer regional cooperation.

But what the Japanese prime minister meant by U.S. involvement remains unclear as he has been vague on specifics.

Hatoyama later told reporters, "I don't intend to exclude the United States or any other country."

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told a press conference that ASEAN leaders welcomed Hatoyama's initiative, saying that while an East Asian community is possible to achieve, it would take time.

But at this stage, according to ASEAN senior officials, only the five original ASEAN members -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand -- have indicated that they favor having the United States on board.

ASEAN also includes Brunei and the grouping's less-developed newer members Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Some of those opposed are concerned that inclusion of the United States would make the community to large and unwieldy, and that ASEAN would lose its core role and become a "minority" in the community, the ASEAN officials said.

But some of those in favor feel U.S. inclusion would be of benefit to ASEAN, by helping offset the strong influence that China would have in the proposed community, for example.

One official said ASEAN is now thinking on "how many legs" the East Asia community should have -- "13 legs, 16 legs or more than that?"

ASEAN, which is already committed to forging an ASEAN Community by has already for years played a central role by hosting two separate annual gatherings of leaders of countries outside Southeast Asia -- the 13-nation ASEAN-plus-three summit with Japan, China, and South Korea, as well as 16-nation East Asia Summit that also includes Australia, India and New Zealand.

Whether or not the United States will be included in a future East Asian community aside, it has been strengthening its role and influence in the region.

In July, the Washington consolidated relations with the four Lower Mekong nations of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam through the holding of their first-ever ministerial meeting, while next month the first-ever U.S.-ASEAN summit will be held, marking a historic point in the ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Relations that began in 1977.

ASEAN leaders, in a statement Saturday, welcomed the upcoming summit and said it reflects the "strong commitment" of the new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama "to deepen and expand its engagement with ASEAN."

The Philippines, which has been tasked by ASEAN to coordinate its relations with the United States, has drafted a concept paper on ASEAN-U.S. relations that suggests future cooperation in the seven areas -- global economy, nuclear-proliferation and disarmament, climate change, disaster management, health pandemics, energy security and fighting transnational crime, according to the officials.


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Cambodia's new park protects tigers, elephants and CO2

Washington, October 25 (ANI): The government of Cambodia has transformed a former logging concession into a new, Yosemite-sized protected area that safeguards not only threatened primates, tigers, and elephants, but also massive stores of carbon.

The Royal Government's Council of Ministers recently declared the creation of the Seima Protection Forest, which covers more than 1,100 square miles along Cambodia's eastern border with Vietnam.

"We commend the Royal Government of Cambodia for their decision to protect this important refuge for the region's wildlife and also for safeguarding stocks of carbon," said WCS Asia Program Director Colin Poole.

Seima is the first protected area in Cambodia created with the conservation of forest carbon as one of its key goals.

WCS is helping to measure carbon stocks contained in Seima Protection Forest to calculate the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that will not be released to the atmosphere as a result of the project's work on reducing deforestation.

This effort will support WCS's "Carbon for Conservation" initiatives to help provide incentives to people to protect their forest in high-biodiversity landscapes, which are being developed in conjunction with negotiations on a proposed international policy known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

In addition to work in Cambodia, WCS is supporting similar efforts in Bolivia, Guatemala, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Indonesia.

"In addition to safeguarding the wildlife of Cambodia, Seima Protection Forest will serve as an important model for demonstrating how REDD could be implemented on the ground," said Dr. Jane Carter Ingram of WCS's Conservation Support Team.

"Forests provide numerous benefits for both wildlife and rural communities, so efforts such as these will help on local, regional and global scales," she added.

The newly designated protected area contains 23 species of carnivore, including seven cat species, two bears, and two species of wild dog. (ANI)

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Vietnam, Cambodia seeks ways to lift investment ties

Leaders from the Ministries of Planning and Investment of Vietnam and Cambodia met in southwestern Tay Ninh province on October 23-24 to discuss measures to step up bilateral cooperative relations.

The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Minister Truong Van Doan, while the Cambodian mission was headed by Secretary of State at the Ministry of Planning Hu Taing Eng.

Doan said the recent cooperation between the two ministries as well as border provinces have yielded promising results, especially in investment, agriculture, transport, trade, exports and human resources development.

However, Doan stressed that the cooperation in a number of areas have yet to match aspirations of both sides.

The deputy minister proposed that the ministries increase the exchange of experiences, support each other in personnel training, and join hands to raise two-way trade.

He also called on provinces along the shared border to boost cooperation in line with the agreements already signed between the two governments.


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