Burma Ready to Begin Preparing for 2014 ASEAN Chairmanship

Posted February 22nd, 2012 at 1:45 am (UTC-5)
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Burma says it is eager to begin planning to assume the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

The regional bloc says Burmese Foreign Minster Maung Lwin described the preparations as “a major task” for his country during a meeting Wednesday with ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan in the capital of Naypyitaw.

Maung Lwin told Surin he will dispatch surrogates to the ASEAN Secretariat and send teams to study this year's meeting in Cambodia as part of Burma's preparations.

ASEAN leaders awarded Burma the 2014 chair during their annual summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November. Surin told Maung Lwin that Burma's year in the rotating position “will be a critical landmark” in ASEAN's history, as it transitions to the ASEAN Community the next year.

Burma was forced to relinquish its turn as ASEAN's rotating chairman in 2006 after strong criticism of its human rights record. But ASEAN leaders acknowledged Burma's steps towards democratic reforms under the new military-backed civilian government that took power last year from the decades-long military junta.

Burmese President Thein Sein told Surin Tuesday his country will “seriously consider” allowing an ASEAN team into the country to observe by-elections scheduled for April 1.