Malaysian foreign minister hopes about trip to Myanmar

Malaysia's foreign minister said Thursday he is "still hopeful" of making a planned trip to Myanmar to monitor its progress toward democracy but has so far gotten no response from the country's military leadership.

"I'm still hopeful but there is no fixed date. I'm still waiting," said Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar during a press conference in Hanoi for his two-day visit to Vietnam. "We have requested for some dates to be able to go. At present, Myanmar has not responded yet."

The veteran diplomat was chosen by the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to visit Myanmar to verify the junta's claims that it is making progress toward democracy.

"I have got a specific agenda that was agreed to at the ASEAN summit and agreed to by Myanmar themselves for the purpose of assisting Myanmar to allay the fears of the international community in terms of Myanmar's direction," he said.

Syed Hamid was in Vietnam for talks on expanding bilateral cooperation in trade, investment and science.

The foreign minister, who arrived in Hanoi a day earlier along with his wife, was greeted by his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Dy Nien, at the government guesthouse.

The two men retired for a half-hour of private talks before Syed Hamid emerged to co-chair the fourth meeting of the Vietnam-Malaysia joint commission for economic, technical and scientific cooperation.

The body, established in 1995, discusses political and security issues as well as cooperation in trade and investment.

The foreign minister also was scheduled to meet with President Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai later in the day. He was to depart on Friday after visiting the Temple of Literature, a historic Hanoi landmark, reports the AP.

I.L.

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