East Timor calls for ending sanctions on Myanmar; Aang San Suu Kyi calls for dialogue with the Junta; ASEAN makes statement on Myanmar; Sinopec discovers gas in Myanmar; Pakistan Foreign Minister’s first visit to Singapore; Indonesia expects to attract mo
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  • East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, has urged the US and Europe to lift sanctions against Burma after the junta released Aung San Suu Kyi. He said economic sanctions on Burma were ''morally not good’’; although it is widely believed that measures are targeted at the regime and not the Burmese people.1 Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi pledged on 15 November to keep working towards democracy and improving human rights in Myanmar, saying she is not concerned about being detained again in the future. She said that she is open to a dialogue with the military junta of Myanmar.2

    Following the general elections in Myanmar which was held on November 7, the Chair of ASEAN Vietnam has issued a statement concerning the event. The statement was issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Pham Gia Khiem. The statement stressed the need for Myanmar to continue to work with ASEAN and the United Nations in the road to democracy. ASEAN welcomed the elections held in Myanmar as a significant step forward in the implementation of the 7-point Roadmap for Democracy. Through the statement, ASEAN encouraged Myanmar to continue to accelerate the process of national reconciliation and democratisation, for stability and development in the country. 3

    China Petrochemical Corp which is also known as Sinopec Group has discovered gas during exploration work in central Myanmar, sources reported, citing a comment by a Myanmar energy official. The extent of the gas reserves is not clear yet, the official noted. However, a spokesperson for Sinopec Group denied having any information about the gas discovery.4

    Reports noted that Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will visit Singapore from November 21-23 at the invitation of Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo. This is Mr Qureshi's first official visit to Singapore since his appointment as Foreign Minister in March 2008. Apart from his meeting with Minister George Yeo, Mr Qureshi will also call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.5

    Indonesia is expected to attract more Chinese tourists through active tourism promotion in China, such as the 12th China International Travel Mart (CITM) and the World Expo Shanghai China (WESC), 2010. Chinese tourists are the fifth largest in Indonesia after Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Australia. Last year, as many as 356,000 Chinese tourists visited Indonesia out of total 6.5 million of foreign tourist.6

    A memorandum of understanding between USAID and the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs set the stage for training, information exchanges, and provision of equipment and transfer of technology to help Vietnam find and identify its war missing. USAID will also give the Vietnamese government $1 million in technical assistance, the statement said.7

    The UN General Assembly committee that deals with human rights issues has adopted separate resolutions by strong majorities which condemn human rights violations in Iran, Burma and North Korea. While the United States voted "yes" for the resolutions on all three countries, India voted "no" for Burma, abstained for Iran and North Korea.
    However, China voted "no" for Myanmar and North Korea but "yes" for Iran.8

    In other developments, the Philippine government has urged Malaysia to name a new facilitator for Malaysian-brokered peace negotiations with Muslim rebels saying that it will have trouble working with the current representative Othman Abdul Razak. The Philippine government's chief peace negotiator Marvic Leonen said that a request was sent to Malaysia to replace Othman Abdul Razak. The Philippines will have “difficulties” working with Othman, Leonen noted in a statement.9