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Australia Urges China, India to Push for Change in Burma

Australia's foreign minister is urging China and India to pressure Burma's military government to end alleged human rights abuses and release opposition political activists.

Alexander Downer said the region's economic giants should use their influence on Burma, because the isolated country relies heavily on their investment and aid.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in the Philippine capital Tuesday, Downer said Western sanctions and threats have failed to push military-ruled Burma to make democratic reforms.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have worried that fellow-member Burma could tarnish the group's image, and have tried what they call "constructive engagement" to push for reforms.

ASEAN is hosting the regional forum in Manila this week to discuss issues ranging from terrorism to economics with representatives from the European Union, the United States, China and other nations.

China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, said Tuesday that Beijing is committed to building good relations and partnerships with its regional neighbors. He said China is not a threat to the region.

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