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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 14:21 GMT
Malaysian FM cuts off Burma trip
Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win (left) receives his Malaysian counterpart Syed Hamid Albar
Syed Hamid Albar (right) was not allowed to see Aung San Suu Kyi
Malaysia's foreign minister, Syed Hamid Albar, has cut short his fact-finding trip to Burma, in which he was due to check progress on political reform.

It was not clear why Mr Syed Hamid left Burma on Friday, rather than Saturday, as scheduled.

He met the Burmese prime minister, but his request to see the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, was not granted.

Mr Syed Hamid made the trip as an envoy of the regional diplomatic group Asean.

As current chairman of the group - the Association of South East Asian Nations - he was sent to evaluate whether Burma's military junta is implementing its plan for political reform.

Burma has been widely criticised for a lack of progress.

Several times Burma postponed the envoy's visit, saying it was too busy moving its administrative capital, or discussing democratic reform.

This was a snub to Asean to pay it back for forcing Burma to forego its turn as chair of the organisation, the BBC's South-East Asia correspondent Kylie Morris says.

She says it is unlikely this uncompleted fact-finding mission will see Burma restored to the bosom of Asean.

Regional impact

Before arriving in Rangoon, Mr Syed Hamid said his aim was to "obtain first hand information on the progress of the implementation of the reconciliation [with the opposition] and democratisation process in Myanmar [Burma]".

But he did not meet anyone from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

He will brief Asean foreign ministers on his findings during their 17-18 April summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Malaysia has said a failure to reform by Burma, which is a member of Asean, is starting to cause problems for the whole region.

Mr Syed Hamid says Burma's neighbours can only continue to defend the regime internationally if they can report back that there is progress towards reform.

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