EU's Ashton seeking deal on Myanmar election mission
EU diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton hopes to make a deal with Myanmar Wednesday to send an "exploratory" mission to Yangon to discuss the country's upcoming elections, a Spanish official said.
Ashton aims to "finalise" the agreement during talks in Madrid with Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win on the sidelines of a conference between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
She will make clear to Nyan Win that "if the Myanmar authorities want a credible political process they have to respect a minimum standard of democracy," said Jose Eugenio Salarich, the official in charge of Asia-Pacific affairs at the Spanish foreign ministry.
The EU said last month it hopes to send a team to Myanmar to discuss the elections, scheduled by the end of November, amid concerns the vote will not be free and fair.
The National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is boycotting the polls, the first for 20 years, as it would have been forced to oust its iconic leader and recognise the junta's constitution if it had signed up.
Suu Kyi's NLD won the last elections in 1990, but the military junta, in power since 1962, refused to recognise those results. Since then the Nobel Peace prize winner has spent much of the time under house arrest.
Salarich warned that the EU mission would be "very complicated, very delicate" with "no guarantees that it will see opposition leaders."
Myanmar said earlier this month that it does not want foreign election observers at the polls.
The talks between Ashton and Nyan Win are scheduled on the sidelines of a one-day ministerial conference between foreign ministers and senior officials from the 27 EU members and the 10 ASEAN members.
The global economic crisis, security issues and climate change are all on the agenda.
© 2010 AFP