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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Burma conference - 'visas denied'
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC correspondent in Delhi

 Burma's senior general, Than Shwe.
Analysts say India does not want to upset Burma army head Than Shwe
India is reported to have refused visas to a number of delegates attending a conference in support of the restoration of democracy in Burma.

The convention, in the capital Delhi, is taking place barely a week before the visit here of Burma's senior general, Than Shwe.

Analysts say India's government wants to carry forward its emerging relationship with Burma's military.

The two sides have a number of common interests, such as security and trade.

'Four denied'

More than 100 leaders of Burmese pro-democracy groups and Burmese ethnic minority organisations have been joined by Western and Asian non-government organisations in Delhi.

Their aim is to discuss a viable strategy for restoring democracy in Burma.

The conference convenor is former Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes.

Mr Fernandes told the BBC that at least four participants had been denied visas to come to India for the three-day conference. They are:

  • Dr Sein Win, prime minister of the self-declared government-in-exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.

  • An elected member of the Burmese parliament, Khun Manko Bun

  • A Malaysian parliamentarian, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim

  • Dr Myint Cho, head of the Burma Council in Australia.

Indian foreign ministry officials are refusing to comment on the matter.

But analysts say India does not want to upset the Burmese military junta ahead of General Than Shwe's visit to Delhi later this month.

Strategic interests

In a video message played at the conference, Dr Sein Win described India's current attitude towards Burma's democracy issue as disappointing.

Burma's military junta has become a threat to regional stability and security and its neighbours could not be indifferent, said Dr Sein Win.

India has supported the cause of democracy in Burma.

But from the mid-1990s it started engaging the military junta to pursue its trade and security interests and offset what it perceived as growing Chinese influence in Burma.

Delhi is now pushing Burma to drive away rebels threatening India's troubled north-east.

It is also hoping Burma will give its companies greater exploration acreage in prospective gas and oil fields on Burma's coast.

The Burmese junta is expecting Indian investment in many large projects including a massive hydroelectric power plant.

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