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Thein Sein Pressed on Rohingya Citizenship

VIENTIANE—In a meeting with President Thein Sein on Tuesday at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit in Laos, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague urged “all political parties in Burma to do what they can to end the violence and address the issue of Rohingya citizenship.”
Hague and Thein Sein are attending the ninth ASEM summit in the Laotian capital, along with leaders of European and Asian countries. Thein Sein would not comment on the summit when asked by The Irrawaddy while leaving a lunchtime meeting on Tuesday.

Hague’s comments were echoed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natelagawa, who told The Irrawaddy that “one core issue in resolving the conflict is citizenship, and this is a matter the Myanmar government must address in the future.”

However, the recent violence in Arakan (Rakhine) State and the plight of Burma’s Rohingya minority was not discussed at the summit, Natalagawa added. “There has not been any more specific discussion of the issue of Rakhine State and the Rohingya,” he said.

Expressing hope that Indonesia’s example in resolving sectarian strife could be emulated in Burma, Natalagawa said that the Arakan violence “is not a conflict of religion, but is a communal conflict, a horizontal one.”

Discussing their Tuesday meeting in Vientiane, William Hague said that, “I was pleased to meet President Thein Sein to follow up our meeting in Burma in January. I congratulated him on the progress Burma has made so far on vital political and economic reforms.”

The British government hopes that Thein Sein will visit the UK next year, with Hague adding that, “I encouraged continued cooperation between the UK and Burmese governments to promote responsible trade with and investment in Burma. And I expressed my hope that the president would be able to visit the UK early next year.”
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