11/20/2007, 00.00
ASEAN – MYANMAR
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ASEAN says no to Gambari to please Myanmar

Myanmar’s delegation wins at ASEAN summit voicing its opposition to any interference into its internal affairs. Ruling junta continues pretending it is open to dialogue as its labour minister meets Aung San Suu Kyi. Buddhist monks say they will continue their alms boycott.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) accepted Myanmar’s objections and cancelled United Nations Special Envoy for Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari’s address to the group, scheduled for tomorrow. ASEAN General Secretary Ong Keng Yong said Mr Gambari’s intervention would have been too much of a “distraction” for the summit agenda.

The UN envoy was expected to brief the delegates to the summit about his talks with officials from the Myanmar military junta which crushed pro-democracy demonstrations and street protests in late September.

Mr Gambari’s trip to Singapore was salvaged Tuesday by holding private meetings to brief leaders from countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia on his negotiations with the junta.

Leaders from Malaysia and Indonesia however backed Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein's view that Gambari's visit amounted to interfering with Burma's internal affairs.

Yesterday in the meantime the junta allowed a third meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and its representative, Labour Minister Aung Kyi.

For Burmese dissidents this is just another subterfuge by the generals who want to fool the international community into believing that they are well-disposed towards dialogue.

No details about the meeting have been released.

Although denying the scale of its September crackdown, Myanmar’s military government remains very concern about news filtering to the outside world.

The Myanmar-related online news service Mizzima reports that junta authorities in northern Burma's Kachin State on Sunday began to seize widely used, low-cost and less-controlled Chinese mobile phones from civilians.

People however are not willing to give up; indeed, they continue to find inspiration in the country’s Buddhist monks.

On Sunday, which marks the start of the second month since monks began refusing alms, the All Burmese Monk’s Alliance, which has led rallies against the regime, released a statement to the press.

In it the group declared that it will continue to refuse alms offered by the military or their families. It announced the birth of a new organisation, the International Burmese Monks Organisation, set up in the United States by monks from around the world.

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