Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - Page 5 News List

ASEAN to listen to Aung San Suu Kyi on Myanmar invite

AP, NEW YORK

ASEAN will weigh the opinion of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as it considers whether to invite Myanmar to chair the regional grouping in 2014, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

Natalegawa also said Indonesia’s own transformation from an authoritarian regime to democracy in a decade could offer lessons to Myanmar, one of the world’s most sanctioned nations because of its poor human rights record.

Natalegawa said he is set to travel to Myanmar next month as ASEAN considers whether Myanmar is on track to assume the chairmanship of the 10-nation grouping, currently held by Indonesia. He said Myanmar was extremely keen to do so and he said that could be an incentive to encourage more democratic reform.

“I shall be keen to listen and to hear the voice of civil society, not least the voice of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ... whether this can have a multiplier effect, a pull effect in speeding up the pace of change,” Natalegawa said.

It is unclear when ASEAN will make its decision, but it could come when its leaders hold their annual summit in November.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed from house arrest and she has held talks with Burmese President Thein Sein.

“We have a reference point,” he said, referring to Indonesia’s own rapid transformation from the three-decade dictatorship of Suharto which ended in 1998. “We are keen to share lessons learned to our friends in Myanmar.”

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