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Thai FM meets Friends of Burma

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) —The Thai Foreign Minister held discussions with the Group of Friends of UNSG on Myanmar. The group wants the general election in 2010 in Burma to be “free”.

On Wednesday the Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya participated in the High-Level Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of UNSG on Myanmar (GoF) chaired by Mr Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, according to a statement released on Thursday from Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Kasit accompanied Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to attend the opening of the General Debate of the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The participants, comprising Foreign Ministers or high-level representatives from 15 countries and the European Commission, expressed their appreciation and support to the good offices undertaken by the United Nations and Ibrahim Gambari, Special Advisor to the UNSG on Myanmar.

“They stressed that the general election to be held by the Myanmar government in 2010 has to be free, fair and inclusive. Prior to the GoF, the Foreign Minister had a bilateral meeting to exchange views on the issue with Mr. Gambari as well,” the statement added.

Foreign Minister Kasit also met Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Both sides exchanged views on the issues of Laotian Hmongs and displaced persons from Burma who illegally entered Thailand.

On Tuesday Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva commented that the United States and Europe appeared to be moving towards engaging Burma rather than a policy of sanctions only as a means of encouraging political change in the military-ruled country, according to a report in Associated Press.

Abhisit told an audience at Columbia University, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly that Thailand shares a long border with Burma, and he believes talks with the country's military leaders are the best way to effect political change, improve human rights and curb drug trafficking.

"Engagement is more productive than alienation and isolation," said Abhisit. The United States and the European Union, he said, appear to be questioning the "thinking that more and more sanctions" will cause change. He did not elaborate.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also raised the issue at the UN General Assembly on the possibility of an eventual easing or lifting of sanctions if US engagement produces political changes in Burma.

Clinton told reporters that "we believe that sanctions remain important as part of our policy, but by themselves they have not produced the results that had been hoped for on behalf of the people of Burma. Clinton said she could "preview" the new approach towards Burma, because a policy review begun by the administration days after it assumed office in January was almost complete.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 September 2009 21:23 )  

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