ASEAN leaders: End Myanmar sanctions

April 4, 2012 at 10:43 AM
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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, April 4 (UPI) -- Southeast Asian leaders ended their two-day summit in Cambodia Wednesday by calling on Western nations to lift economic sanctions on Myanmar.

The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations also pledged to step up efforts to resolve disputes concerning the South China Sea between China and several other countries, and urged restraint on the Korean Peninsula in light of North Korea's plan to launch a rocket, Voice of America reported.

The unanimous appeal for ending sanctions against Myanmar, formally known as Burma, had been expected after Sunday's by-elections in which that nation's most prominent opposition party claimed 43 of a possible 44 legislative seats. The vote saw Nobel Peace Prize laureate and activist Aung San Suu Kyi elected to parliament after spending decades under house arrest.

"Following the latest development with the recent free and fair elections in Myanmar, all ASEAN leaders are appealing to the relevant parties to lift sanctions from Myanmar," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said. "In general, we have consensus and support democratization in Myanmar, and we appeal to those who impose sanctions on Myanmar to lift the sanctions so that we can promote development in Myanmar."

Foreign ministers from Vietnam and the Philippines pushed for discussion on the maritime dispute. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said summit participants emphasized the need to move forward on negotiations to implement a code of conduct to resolve conflicts in the resource-rich waterway, which is claimed wholly or partially China and five other countries.

On North Korea, leaders urged all parties to avoid fomenting an already tense situation; but fell short of denouncing Pyongyang's plan to launch a ballistic rocket this month. North Korea said it was to launch a satellite, but Western nations said they believe it is to test a ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

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