Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: No investigation apparent at MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • Kerry due in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Obama, ASEAN leaders turn up the heat on Burma

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-23

US President Barack Obama joined nine leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in calling on Burma to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and to hold credible elections during a summit meeting in Singapore.

AFP - US President Barack Obama used a landmark encounter with the prime minister of military-run Myanmar on Sunday to demand freedom for detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
  
"I reaffirmed the policy that I put forward yesterday in Tokyo with regard to Burma (Myanmar)," Obama told reporters, recapping his call Saturday for the junta to release Suu Kyi after two decades of house arrest.
  
"He brought that up directly with that government," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters as Obama met Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein and nine other regional leaders in Singapore.
  
Obama was sitting down with friends and foes alike at an unprecedented summit between a US president and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  
Before opening the talks in a hotel ballroom, Obama and all 10 ASEAN leaders stood in a line on a stage, crossing their arms to shake hands with the leader on either side.
  
Thein Sein was not in hand-shaking range of Obama, and sat nearly opposite the president as the leaders assembled at a round table, reporters saw before they were ushered out.
  
The meeting on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific forum was aimed to inject some much-needed warmth into US relations with a region that has felt neglected, with Washington consumed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  
"I believe that the United States is taking the relationship seriously at the highest levels. There is now a momentum that is created," ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan told reporters.
  
For Obama, it was an opportunity to enlist the support of Myanmar's neighbours in his new strategy of engagement to push for democracy in the military-run state and the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
  
In a speech in Tokyo on Saturday, the US leader offered Myanmar's generals the prospect of a better relationship if they agreed to reform, but said sanctions would remain until they took concrete steps.
  
"That is how a government in Burma will be able to respond to the needs of its people," he said on the first leg of his debut tour of Asia.
  
"That is the path that will bring Burma true security and prosperity."
  
In a draft of a statement to be released after the talks, the US and ASEAN leaders did not mention Suu Kyi but urged the junta to ensure that elections planned for next year will be "free, fair, inclusive and transparent".
  
Myanmar has held US ties with Southeast Asia hostage for years, but Obama is keen to review the relationship with the fast-developing region as China exerts a growing presence in its own backyard.
  
Sunday's meeting was the first time a US president has shared the same room with all 10 leaders from ASEAN -- a mixed bag of emerging democracies, monarchies and communist states.
  
First signs of a change came earlier this year, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a landmark friendship pact with ASEAN in a move seen as a sign of the US desire to counter Beijing's influence.
  
One issue crucial to the export-reliant region is trade. But Obama came under fire at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Sinapore over a resurgence of US protectionism during the global economic crisis.
  
ASEAN members are meanwhile hobbled by their policy of non-interference in each other's affairs, and their focus on their often turbulent domestic arenas.
  
"This is Obama's first trip here as president and in this context a lot of this trip is a listening trip... as opposed to delivery," said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at the Singapore Management University.
  
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  
 

Date created : 2009-11-15

  • DIPLOMACY

    Obama's Asia trip aimed at luring help on economic and security issues

    Read more

COMMENT(S)