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Singapore FM: ASEAN Reluctant to Sanction Burma

By VOA News
22 October 2007

Singapore's foreign minister says Southeast Asian nations are reluctant to impose sanctions on Burma because they could further isolate the military-ruled government.

George Yeo said Monday that the sanctions likely would be ineffective and could worsen pre-existing divisions in Burma. He warned that without the military, Burma could dissolve into civil war.

Singapore is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a 10-member group that includes Burma.

U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari has visited Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand to lobby them to push for political reconciliation in Burma. He is expected in India Monday, and will visit China before again heading to Burma.

Gambari has suggested the international community should seek an alternative to additional sanctions to encourage change in Burma.

He says incentives could be offered in exchange for democratic reforms, to show Burma's military rulers the international community is not trying to punish them.

Gambari set out on his Asian tour after Burmese soldiers opened fire in Rangoon last month on thousands of peaceful anti-government protesters, including Buddhist monks.

At least 10 people were killed and thousands arrested in Rangoon and other cities. Pro-democracy activists say the death toll was much higher.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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