Indonesian FM Seen Favoring Burma’s ASEAN Bid

Posted November 8th, 2011 at 6:20 am (UTC-5)
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A U.S. government agency says Indonesia is likely to endorse Burma's bid to serve as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

The Open Source Center, which analyzes international press reports, said its analysis is based on comments by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who visited Burma last week. Indonesia's opinion carries extra weight because of its role as this year's ASEAN chair.

Natalegawa was widely quoted after his visit saying Burma has made “significant” progress in its democratic transition. The French news agency quoted him saying in Jakarta Tuesday that he now senses strong support for Burma's bid among members of the 10-nation bloc.

At his press conference Tuesday, Natalegawa reportedly said he has not decided whether he will support Burma's application when ASEAN leaders meet in Bali next week. But he pointed to a “trajectory of positive developments” in Burma over the past several months.

Burma's new government has eased some press restrictions, released about 200 political prisoners and opened a dialogue with some of its critics since taking office in March. However human rights groups say Burma should not be rewarded as long as an estimated 1,800 political prisoners remain incarcerated.

Burma's last bid to chair ASEAN was rejected because of its poor human rights record.