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Burmese Exiles Ask New Zealand to Uphold Sanctions on Military Junta

A group of Burmese exiles is in New Zealand to ask government and labor leaders to pressure Rangoon's military leaders to implement democratic reforms.

The group is expected to urge officials to support growing calls to deny Rangoon the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2006 if it fails to carry out democratic reforms.

New Zealand currently exports nearly $5 million in goods annually to Burma, mainly in dairy products.

Trade unions president Ross Wilson is calling on Wellington to join the international campaign against Burma, calling it "the forgotten country."

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Phil Goff says his government has consistently expressed its concerns directly to Burma's military rulers about its human rights record. But he says broad economic sanctions will only cause suffering to Burma's children.