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Burma, Other Asian Nations Defend Security Actions

Burma has defended its prosecution of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at an Asian security summit in Singapore. Delegates to the summit have urged her release along with 2,000 other political prisoners in the military-ruled country. Sri Lanka and Pakistan also defended their own internal security measures at the summit.

Burma's Deputy Minister of Defense, Major General Aye Myint, on Sunday said police had no choice but to charge Aung San Suu Kyi with violating the terms of her house arrest.

"It is no doubt that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has committed a cover up of the truth in her failure to report an illegal immigrant to the authorities concerned," said Aye Myint. "Thus, there was no option but to open legal proceedings in accordance with the law."

Aye Myint was speaking to Asian security officials and experts at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Delegates to the annual summit made public calls for Burma's military rulers to release the democracy leader along with the more than two thousand other political prisoners in the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi is facing five years in prison for allowing an eccentric American man to stay in her house without official permission.

The trial has been widely condemned as an excuse to keep the democracy leader locked-up. Her lawyers say a verdict is expected at the end of the week.

Aye Myint repeated Burma's dismissal of the criticism as an interference in its internal affairs.

Also at the summit Sunday, Sri Lanka's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama, defended the military defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.

"Sri Lanka will no doubt enter the annals of history as a classic, textbook example of a nation that successfully prevailed over the scourge of terrorism whilst tenaciously upholding the cherished values of democracy and human rights that have been deeply engrained in the psyche of our people," said Rohitha Bogollagama.

Critics have accused both the rebels and the Sri Lankan military of causing heavy casualties during the 25-year-conflict. The United Nations estimates thousands of civilians died in the final military assault on the rebels.

Pakistan's Secretary of Defense, Syed Athar Ali, told the Asian security summit there was a misperception that Pakistan was the source of extremism in the region. He argued instability actually trickled in from Afghanistan after the 9-11 attacks.

"[The] quandary lies in Afghanistan and, therefore, the solution has to be found in Afghanistan itself," said Syed Athar Ali. "Whereas Pakistan has played a lead role in global campaign against terror, and paid a very heavy price, the lack of success in creating stability in Afghanistan by coalition forces has impeded our efforts at stabilizing our western border region bordering Afghanistan."

Ali acknowledged that extremists had found a safe-haven in the largely unsecured border region, but says Pakistan security forces are now making great efforts to flush out the Taliban and other extremists.

But, he warned the weak government in Afghanistan and lack of international funding was likely to make the security situation worse.

American and British defense chiefs at the three-day summit asked Asian countries to contribute more funds and expertise to Afghanistan's development.

In other security concerns expressed Sunday, Singapore's Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean told delegates new friction could arise from overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

He said more military transparency and information sharing was needed to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to conflict.