Malaysia angry over `arrogant' Burma boycott
Friday 25 July 1997
Dressed in his white national costume, he beamed as the Burmese flag took its place beside those of Asean's other eight members. On Sunday, however, when he sits down at a bigger gathering of fellow foreign ministers, it will feel more like the old days. At least two of those present in the room will refuse to talk to U Ohn Gyaw.
The occasion will be the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), a defence and security discussion group, consisting of Asean members plus their "dialogue partners", including the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Australia. Also present will be Jacques Poos, foreign minister of Luxembourg, and the EU's rotating President, and Manuel Marin, the European Commissioner responsible for dealing with Asean. At last year's ARF meeting in Jakarta, the Europeans and the US made it clear they opposed Burma's membership. Now it is a fait accompli, they have a simple solution.
"We will try to avoid a clash with Asean, said one European official yesterday, "but we are bound by our common position, which says that no contact is possible with Burma. We will notice the presence of this person in the room, but we will not address him."
There will be tension at this weekend's talks near Kuala Lumpur. Despite accepting Burma's entry into Asean, European governments and the US are still determined to make their unhappiness obvious. But yesterday, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, gave a combative speech in which he insisted Asean would "resist and reject such attempts at coercion".
"Instead of encouraging Asean to accept all South-east Asian countries as soon as possible, Asean has been urged to pass judgement, deny membership, and apply pressure on a potential candidate so as to force that country to remain poor," he said.
He accused the Group of Eight leading economies of arrogance in deciding "that they, and they alone, should determine the fate of every country".
In a draft communique issued today by Asean leaders, the foreign ministers will call for expansion of the UN Security Council, increased food aid to North Korea, an end to the building of Israeli settlements, and will deplore the failure to capture Serbian war criminals.
Traditionally, the group has insisted on non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. But in the last fortnight, there has been a more direct policy, since the coup in Cambodia which caused its planned induction into Asean to be postponed. Asean has offered to take on a mediating role between the Prince Norodom Ranariddh and the man who deposed him, his co-prime minister, Hun Sen.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...