June 11, 2009 / 1:10 PM / 10 years ago

France, Germany deplore Myanmar attitude

PARIS (Reuters) - France and Germany criticised the Myanmar authorities on Thursday for their attitude over detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and said they were trying to enlist China and India to exert further pressure on the country.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) talks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference at the end of a bilateral summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 11, 2009. REUTERS/Gerard Cerles/Pool

Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi is on trial in Myanmar for breaking the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

The case has sparked outrage in the West, and Europe has considered tougher sanctions against the military government.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed the leaders’ deep worry over Suu Kyi, who has been detained for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

“I tried to reach her by telephone in recent days. The Burmese junta refused to allow contact,” said Sarkozy.

“I deplore this attitude very deeply and Mrs Merkel and I have decided to express our great concern at this extraordinary Burmese attitude.”

France and Germany were asking China and India to take their concerns into account a few days before Suu Kyi appeared likely to be sentenced, Sarkozy said.

Speaking late on Wednesday, Suu Kyi’s lawyer said that the detained opposition leader believed her trial was an attempt by the ruling generals to prevent her from running in multi-party elections next year.

In Asia, governments have gone no further than chastising the regime for putting Suu Kyi on trial.

EU ministers have said it is incumbent upon Myanmar’s neighbours to try to sway the regime through political pressure.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Myanmar, has said that the trial threatened the regime’s “honour and credibility” and repeated a call for her release.

Myanmar’s main backer, China, has said Myanmar should be left alone to handle its internal affairs.

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