Obama calls for release of Suu Kyi

Obama calls for release of Suu Kyi

 US President Barack Obama called for the release of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi when he met the country’s prime minister at a meeting with other Southeast Asian leaders in Singapore on Sunday.

“I reaffirmed the policy that I put forward yesterday (Saturday) in Tokyo with regard to Burma (Myanmar),” Obama told reporters, recapping his call on Saturday for the junta to release Suu Kyi after two decades of house arrest.

Obama did not speak or shake hands with Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein at the meeting in Singapore’s Shangri-la hotel with the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the first with a US president. He joined the Asean tradition of linking arms at the start of the meeting, looking a bit bemused, before the leaders sat down around a circular table for the talks.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama reiterated his call for Suu Kyi to be freed, although a statement to be issued after the meeting does not demand her release or that of other political prisoners ahead of elections in the military-ruled country next year.

The meeting in Singapore marked the first time in history that a US leader had met his counterparts in the 42-year-old grouping. It took place after an Asia-Pacific summit.

For the first time in decades, the US and the Asean are singing from the same hymn book when it comes to Myanmar.

Washington has recently taken a two-prong approach to the former Burma, engaging the junta while keeping sanctions on the resource-rich nation that shares borders with India and China.

For years, the Asean was heavily criticised in the West for its own fruitless engagement policy with Myanmar’s generals.
Now it is hoping that with the US support, Myanmar, under military rule since 1962, can be guided back to democracy.

The draft statement said the leaders hoped the new policy “would contribute to broad political and economic reforms”.

Replacement treaty

Obama said on Sunday that the US and Russia would have a replacement treaty on reducing nuclear arms ready for approval by year’s end, an announcement designed as an upbeat ending to a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders.
Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit of APEC nations to announced good progress in negotiations on an updated pact to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) nuclear arms agreement that expires on December 5.

I’m confident that if we work hard and with a sense of urgency, we’ll be able to get that done,” Obama said, adding technical issues remain. Medvedev said he hoped negotiators would “finalise the text of the document by December.”

While publicising progress with Russia on arms control the president and other leaders bowed to the obvious on climate change. They discussed a compromise agreement for a 192-nation gathering next month in Copenhagen, indirectly admitting that the meeting would not produce a new global treaty to reduce the heat-trapping carbon emissions that are warming the planet.

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