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EU, ASEAN Agree to Boost Ties; Urge ASEAN to Pressure Burma


The European Union and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have agreed to do more to boost their political and economic cooperation.

The two released a joint five-page declaration Thursday during a meeting in the German city of Nuremberg.

In the statement, foreign ministers from both regions pledged to cooperate more on regional security issues, and to enhance their political dialogue.

They also agreed to boost their economic ties and work together to tackle climate change.

The EU wants to establish a free trade deal with ASEAN, but that effort continues to face challenges. One of the biggest obstacles is the situation in Burma.

EU officials urged Thursday that ASEAN pressure Burma to improve its human rights record, and to call for the release of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 17 years under house arrest.

Human rights groups estimate that more than 1,100 political prisoners in Burma are being held by the military-led government.

In January, ASEAN agreed to work to establish a free trade zone with the EU by 2015.

The 10 ASEAN members are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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