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Regional discussions continue on Myanmar

Updated On: Oct 30, 2007

There has still not been much news regarding Aung San Suu Kyi’s Thursday (25 October) meeting with the junta liaison minister, Aung Kyi.

The military junta has released about 70 detainees. However, the junta has also stepped up security in Yangon, around the Shwedagon Pagoda and elsewhere. Barbed wire, police and soldiers are visible in the city to dissuade possible protests. 

Outside of Myanmar, other countries and organisations continue to search for possible solution to the problem of Myanmar. The United Nations (UN) envoy Ibrahim Gambari wrapped up his Asian visit and is preparing for his next visit to Myanmar.  His credibility will be dented if he is seen to be unable to bring real change to the country in his next visit to Myanmar in November.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo has also been travelling round the region, meeting with key stakesholders of the Myanmar issue. After meeting with both Chinese and Japanese Foreign Ministers on separate occasions, Yeo told reporters, “We were in broad agreement on the main points, that the regional countries have a very important role to play in creating conditions for genuine national conciliation inMyanmar.”

Japan recently cancelled plans to build a 552 million yen human resources centre in a Yangon university to show its disapproval of Myanmar’s recent handling of demonstrations. China has also agreed to give ‘all-out support’ to Gambari’s mission.

Yeo will be meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi next month. India has been keen to maintain good ties with the Myanmar regime in part due to the latter’s natural resources. India also needs Myanmar’s cooperation for its Kaladan project. The Kaladan project aims to link India’s northeast state of Mizoram to Thailand through Myanmar. The Indian government is underwriting the entire project. The project, when completed in four years’ time, will give the landlocked states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh access to international trading routes through the Bay of Bengal.

Yeo laid out some principles for the military junta to move forward, saying, “It is they [the people of Myanmar] who must strike the compromise and decide for themselves what kind of a country to have. The military has got to be part of the solution. Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD must also be part of the solution.”

While the Myanmar issue would be discussed at the ASEAN summit, it would not be raised at the Security Council by the next president of the UN Security Council. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry confirmed that it would not raise the issue of Myanmar during Indonesian’s presidency term at the UN Security Council in November.

The Foreign Ministry director for international security and disarmament affairs Desra Percaya told the press on Friday (26 October), “We have no program of discussing Myanmar during our presidency in November although the issue is still on the UN Security Council's agenda.”

Even if Indonesia does not raise the issue, the US is likely to do so. The US has also incurred the wrath of the Myanmar junta. The Myanmar-language Myanmar Ahlin daily published a commentary criticising the US on Sunday (28 October), saying, “Recent protests in the country were created by the loudmouthed bully, using the exiled dissidents and traitors together with communists, internal and external anti-government destructionists.”

On other occasions, the junta has also played on fears that Myanmar would disintegrate without the military’s rule. Such claims have also been made by other observers and scholars. However, in a news report by the Irrawaddy in which several ethnic leaders were interviewed, doubts were raised if indeed Myanmar would disintegrate without the military junta in charge.  (29 October 2007)

Sources:

Envoy Gambari's credibility on the line (Straits Times, 29 October 2007)

Region ‘can help create right conditions’ (Straits Times, 28 October 2007)

Myanmar Junta Denounces US As ‘Bully’ (Associated Press, 28 October 2007)

I won't raise Myanmarat UNSC (Jakarta Post, 27 October 2007)

UN envoy wants ongoing Suu Kyi-junta dialogue(Straits Times, 27 October 2007)

Indiagains bigger foothold in Myanmar (Straits Times, 27 October 2007)

Ethnic Leaders Dismiss Talk of Burma’s Collapse Should Junta Fall (The Irrawaddy, 26 October 2007)







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