07/21/2008, 00.00
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ASEAN criticizes Myanmar over Nargis and the detention of Aug San Suu Kyi

A clear separation from the traditionally accommodating collaboration of the past. Dialogue also expected over North Korea's nuclear program, and the food and oil crisis.

Singapore (AsiaNews) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has harshly criticized the Burmese junta during its annual meeting, which began today in Singapore. The group emphasized the desolation into which the country has fallen, two and a half months after the passage of cyclone Nargis, which killed at least 138,000. ASEAN mainly criticized Myanmar's rejection of international aid, the only possibility for resolving the tremendous emergency facing the population. It also expressed "deep disappointment" over the detention of opposition leader Aug San Suu Kyi, and asked the junta to open "meaningful dialogue" with the opposition.

In the past, ASEAN has always preferred "constructive engagement", meaning accommodating and uncritical collaboration with member countries.

Burmese foreign minister Nyan Win has intimated that Aung San Suu Kyi could be set free within six months. But the junta has also set her free in the past, and arrested her again after a certain time.

In conjunction with the ASEAN forum, a meeting is also planned with the foreign ministers involved in the North Korean nuclear question. The most urgent problems on the table also include the food crisis and oil prices, which are rattling the economies and societies of southeast Asia.

ASEAN Is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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