ASEAN calls for release of Suu Kyi

July 21st, 2008 - 12:25 am ICT by IANS  

Singapore, July 20 (DPA) Foreign ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Sunday called on Myanmar’s ruling junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees. On the eve of the formal start of the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meetings in Singapore, the ministers of the 10-member regional bloc expressed disappointment over Suu Kyi’s continued detention.

“The foreign ministers expressed their deep disappointment that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention under house arrest had been extended by the Myanmar government,” Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo told reporters after the officials met over dinner.

“They repeated the call by ASEAN leaders for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees as part of Myanmar’s national reconciliation process,” he added.

Suu Kyi has spent most of the last 18 years under house arrest and has currently been detained since 2003. In May, the military junta extended her house arrest indefinitely.

Yeo said the foreign ministers also urged Myanmar to continue “working closely” with the United Nations and the secretary general’s special envoy Ibrahim Gambari “in ensuring an inclusive process towards national reconciliation”.

“They stressed the importance of Gambari’s work in helping Myanmar move forward,” he added.

Gambari is planning to visit Myanmar in mid-August at the invitation of the military government.

He last travelled to Myanmar in March to mediate reconciliation talks between the government and Suu Kyi amid deadly street protests against rising prices.

Yeo said ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, hopes that Gambari would be given access to “the widest possible range of contacts, including Suu Kyi” during the trip.

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