HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 cc143-4
8. Mr. Jonathan Shaw (Chatham and Aylesford)

If he will make a statement on United Kingdom relations with Burma. [40497]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett)

We are deeply concerned about the political, economic and human rights situation in Burma. We are exerting pressure on the Burmese to engage in substantive dialogue with political leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi. We have used our EU presidency to renew EU measures against Burma. We also drafted the tough resolution on Burma for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights agreed in April. We continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Burmese refugees.

Mr. Shaw

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Has he seen recent reports that the economic sanctions against Burma are beginning to bite? Will he ensure that Japan and other Association of South East Asian countries implement them to make sure that the international community does not open any dialogue with the Burmese junta until the junta has opened negotiations with the democratic forces in that country?

Mr. Fatchett

My hon. Friend is right to say that the only way towards progress for Burma is through a political solution that recognises democratic rights and human rights. We are encouraged by the fact that some members of ASEAN are engaging much more constructively and openly in their discussions on Burma. We see that as progress. The way in which they are using their influence on the regime in Rangoon could be a positive source for the future. We shall continue to work for a democratic Burma because, again, through the restoration of democracy and human rights, we have the best chance of moving Burma forward and making progress.