Asian Group Resists Anti-Burma Pressure

Article excerpt

U.S. efforts to impose sanctions against Burma will likely receive a chilly reception when Secretary of State Warren Christopher attends meetings with representatives of Asian nations next week in Indonesia.

In fact, the Regional Forum meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to admit Burma as an observer, despite strong attempts by the United States and European nations to isolate the government there.

"The West and the media are going on a witch hunt as far as Myanmar [Burma] is concerned. . . . It is not an issue at all as far as ASEAN is concerned," ASEAN Secretary-General Ajit Singh was reported as saying earlier this week.

Burma has been widely criticized by the West for repressive domestic policies that have prompted calls by dissidents inside and outside.

The Regional Forum meeting includes representatives of ASEAN's seven members, plus those from the United States, the European Union, China and Japan.

Much attention will also focus on Mr. Christopher's bilateral meetings with individual foreign ministers in Jakarta, especially with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen.

Winston Lord, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters this week the 14th Christopher-Qian meeting will help continue to "stabilize this relationship" following a visit by U.S. National Security Adviser Anthony Lake to China last week.

Washington and Beijing have recently worked to reduce tension over a number of differences involving trade, intellectual piracy and weapons proliferation issues. …