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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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US says ASEAN has role to play in Myanmar and Koreas

  • Abdul Khalik

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, January 26 2011 | 11:46 am

Myanmar should dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, release its political prisoners and recognize Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) before the US will consider lifting sanctions, a US diplomat says.

The US also welcomes ASEAN and Indonesia taking an active role in helping to resolve the problems on the Korean Peninsula, he said.

The US secretary of state’s deputy assistant Joseph Y. Yun told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that ASEAN’s foreign ministers had voiced all the same requests during their meeting in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, last week.

“These are excellent demands from the ASEAN ministers, and I think the Myanmar authorities should really take them to heart and make them a reality,” Yun said.

Yun, who oversees affairs in East Asia and the Pacific, said if Myanmar’s government had complied with all the requests from the international community, then there would be a positive response.

“And clearly, as the reconciliation process makes progress, I think the international community can ensure a response,” he said.

During their meeting in Lombok last week, ASEAN’s foreign ministers spoke about the need for the US, the European Union and Canada — all ASEAN dialogue partners — to consider lifting their sanctions against Myanmar because the country had successfully conducted general elections and released Suu Kyi from house arrest late last year

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said after the meeting that ASEAN believed in the early lifting or easing of sanctions against Myanmar by several countries, but said that the lifting of sanctions and reconciliation should go hand in hand.

ASEAN member states reinforced the importance of inclusive dialogue to ensure that all concerned parties could contribute to Myanmar’s future development, Marty said.

On North Korea, Yun welcomed ASEAN’s intention to help on the Korean Peninsula. He said stability on the peninsula would be connected to the denuclearization of North Korea.

“I think the international community, including ASEAN, should be quite clear in requesting that North Korea be denuclearized and come join the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] again. And if ASEAN wants to help in that process, that’s a very good thing.”

At the Lombok meeting, ASEAN ministers agreed to be more active in finding a solution to the conflict between South Korea and North Korea, affirming that ASEAN will play its part to support the efforts of the six-party talks, which include the US, China, Japan and the two Koreas.

“We have real concerns about the ramifications throughout the region. We consider it a fault line. If we neglect this fault line, it can easily be imposed throughout East Asia — like an us versus them scenario. For us, inaction is not an option,” Marty said.

He said that under Indonesian chairmanship, ASEAN will try to make a greater contribution to help solve the problem, adding that there was an ambitious plan to coordinate with the six-party talks countries.

“Through communication with the six-party talks countries, ASEAN will explore how it can contribute to creating conditions to help resume the six-party talks.”

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