Sun, Nov 25, 2007 - Page 5 News List

PM says recent unrest poses no threat

AFP , YANGON, MYANMAR

Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein reassured Southeast Asian leaders at a summit last week that recent unrest in his country posed no threat to the region, official media said yesterday.

The nation was rocked by pro-democracy protests in September, when Buddhist monks led 100,000 people in the streets of Yangon only to suffer a violent reprisal from security forces.

A UN rights investigator said that 15 people were killed during the crackdown, while Myanmar has said that about 3,000 people were arrested.

Thein Sein told the summit that the unrest would have no effect on other nations, according to a report in the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

"World media exaggerated the news neglecting the actual facts, saying that the situation in Myanmar could harm international and regional peace and security," the government mouthpiece said, paraphrasing Thein Sein's remarks.

"The actual situations in Myanmar did not pose a threat to the international community, let alone regional countries' peace and security," the paper said.

Myanmar was expected to face tough criticism at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore last week, but instead secured a diplomatic victory by blocking a briefing by UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

The New Light of Myanmar said that the ruling junta was annoyed with Gambari for releasing a statement from detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi without first consulting the generals.

"Myanmar is closely dealing with both regional countries and global countries and is cooperating with the United Nations," the paper said.

"Mr Gambari, however, without any consultation or coordination in advance with the government of Myanmar, had released a statement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," it said, using an honorific title for the Nobel peace prize winner.

In the statement released on Nov. 8, Aung San Suu Kyi said she was ready to engage the government in serious talks on national reconciliation.

The 62-year-old has been confined to her home for 12 of the last 18 years, despite international calls for her release.

Her National League for Democracy party won elections in 1990 with a landslide victory, but the military government has never recognized the result.

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