tv BBC World News WHUT April 13, 2012 7:00am-7:30am EDT
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awe always appreciated the help that we have been given over these last decades, especially britain and other very close friends. they have always understood our need for democracy, our desire to take a place in the world, and the aspirations of our people. and we have all this shared in the belief that what is necessary for burma is an end to all ethnic conflict, respect for human rights, which would include the release of political prisoners, and the kind of development aid which will help to empower our people and take our country further towards the road to genuine democracy. i'm very, very happy to be able to welcome all of you, not just the prime minister, but all of you who are here today to burma, and as this is the time of the water festival, it will
give you a good opportunity to wash away all your sins, if you have any. perhaps you don't have any. and to get yourself nice and pure and happy for the new year that will be coming on the 17th of april. that's the first day of the burmese new year. and i very much hope that this is the year which will not only bring happiness to the people of burma, democracy to our country, but also closer and better friendship between our countries. thank you. awe thank you very much. some questions. i think the bbc, u a question. >> prime minister, even by suspending this -- >> even by suspending sanctions, is there not a risk that that removes the pressure on the government to reform? they think they've done enough.
>> well, i don't believe that's the case. clearly we have to be cautious. we have to be careful. we have to be questioning. we want to know that the reform process is irreversible, but i think it's right when the president thein sein has made these steps. it's right for the world to respond. i think suspension is the right step rather than lifting sanctions, because it will strengthen, as aung san suu kyi has said, it will strengthen his hand in arguing it's necessary to keep performing. all courses of action are full of risk, but i think this is the right step forward for those of us who want to see further progress towards democracy and freedom and rights here in burma, and let's not forget how far things have come. we're standing in a house where you were for decades under house arrest. you're sitting in a garden
where you were barely allowed to walk or to stand. >> but you could seep the jungle. >> and only three years ago you were threatened with prison. so things have come some way. we want them to go much further, but we agree, this is the right response today. >> thank you. christian from itv news. prime minister and aung san suu kyi, we have experienced disappointment before. why do you both think that this time it is different, that this time the regime is indeed prepared to give away power? >> could i say that what we experienced before was never disappointment, but setbacks. we were prepared for all eventualities when we started out on the road to democracy, and we've had setbacks, but i can't say that we were disappointed. those were not what we would have wanted, but we're always prepared to keep going forward. and because we were prepared to keep going forward and prepared
to take calculated risks, we are where we are right now. in order to proceed further, we must keep on taking calculated risks where necessary, which is why i agree with prime minister cameron that a suspension of sanctions is the right thing to do. in any case, we're determined to succeed, so please, let's not talk about disappointment. >> thank you. sky news? >> thank you, prime minister. aung san suu kyi, the prime minister has been talking about burma as a bright spot, an example, a beacon. do you think he's right to pile such a weight of expectation on your countries? and prime minister, could i just ask you, do you think that the military is going down this route of reform? you can economically why they might, but politically they're heading towards a wipeout in 2015. >> i think the world loves a happy ending, and i don't at
all mind that prime minister cameron would like to see a happy ending to the democracy story in burma. we will work towards that. we would not like to disappoint our friends. >> i think we should be optimistically, but cautiously and carefully optimistic. i can't speak for why the regime is it acting in the way that it is, but i think it's clear when you look at burma's neighbors, you can see economies that are growing more quickly. you can see poverty that is being tackled more effectively. you're seeing, in our countries, including those i visited this week, democracy going hand in hand with greater economic success and growth. and i just hope that the moves that are being made by this regime -- and remember, they have released political prisoners, they have loosened some of the practices on censorship. they are trying to deal with some of the ethnic conflicts. they haven't done enough. there's much more that they need to do.
we will keep that pressure on. that is why suspending sanctions rather than lifting sanctions is the right answer. but i think it's right to take this step. if we really want to see the chance of greater freedom and democracy in burma, we should respond when they take action. and if they keep moving, the shift of economic reform forward and the shift of political reform forward, then we should be prepared to respond. that is the right thing to do. it may be a bold thing to do, but for the sake of a country that has been crying out for freedom after decades of a dictatorship and that is crying out for a stronger economy after so much grinding poverty, it must be worth taking that risk and taking that step. channel 4? >> you said not to talk about disappointment, but you also talked about those who would like to stop the move to democracy. what is their strength, do you
think? presumably mostly in the military, what is their strength? what do you think would make them change their minds or hold their hand? >> i don't know what their strength is, but certainly it is not -- it is not in any way match up with the strength of the people who want a democracy. if you were here during the two months before the elections, you would have noticed how keen the people of burma are on taking the fate of the country into their own hands. and i don't think the strength of those who do not want democracy could compare in any way with the strength of the people's desire for democracy. this is why i'm optimistic, but cautiously. i always said i'm a cautious optimist. that's in my nature. although we are on one hand cautiously optimistic, on the other hand we're determined to make sure that the will of the people should prevail.
>> we were joking earlier when democracy becomes more embedded, you can't expect to win 45 elections in a row. it was a stunning, stunning result shows the strength of feeling there is for democracy and progress in this country. guardian newspaper? >> you've written that one of the ways in which your father showed constant courage was that he parlayed with the enemy. do you believe that you're parlaying with the enemy? another thing is a revolution of the spirit. are you embarking on a journey that shows that revolution of the spirit that you wrote about? >> i believe in progress. my father parlayed with the enemy. i would think to think i'm parlaying with people who are no longer our enemies, and that would be progress. with regard to the revolution of the spirit, i think i can only repeat again what i just
said later, that if you had been here just before the elections, you would have seen that there was a revolution of the spirit taking place among the people of burma. people had decided that they were going to assert themselves and that they were going to be the ones who decided how this nation was going to be run. >> i think there's one other element of progress that i hope we can move forward on today, and that is this -- for many years, suu kyi was allowed, if she wanted to, to leave this country. you wrote that they would roll out the red carpet all the way to the airplane and put you on to, it but never let you return. i hope today -- and i have invited her today -- to come to london in june and come to the united kingdom in june to also see your beloved oxford in june.
that, i think, is a sign of huge progress, that you will be able to leave your country, to return to your country, and to continue your work as a member of parliament. >> well, two years ago i would have said thank you for the invitation, but sorry. now i'm happy to say perhaps, and that's great progress. >> any other questions? >> i can't tell thaw yet, because we're working on the technicalities. >> i don't think i would like to take such a pessimistic view of the government's desire for democratic change. i won't even talk about my plan a, let alone my plan b.
>> you mentioned about the suspension. can you give us what type of sanctions you are thinking, and specifically, do we lift up and what other markers have to be met before sanctions to be ended? thank you. >> the argument that we will be making with our european union colleagues is that when the sanctions come up for ending in april, that we should, instead of lifting them entirely, we should suspend them, to make sure they're still capable of being put back in place, that they should be suspended, and this sanctioned suspension should cover everything apart from the arms embargo. i think this will give the greatest level of certainty and clarity. it will show to the regime that
we respect and welcome the progress that has been made on political prisoners, on political freedom. but it is suspension, not lifting, and so if this progress is not irreversible, then sanctions could be reimposed. any other specific measures that britain itself would have put in place in terms of discouragement. i think this is a very clear message, but let me be absolutely clear. we know there's still much, much more that needs to be done. as the president himself has acknowledged, there are more changes that need to be made. we are not starry-eyed or credulous about. this we know what a long road needs to be traveled between now and 2015, but the right thing to do for the world is to encourage this change and to believe in the possibility of peaceful progress towards democracy.
>> you are thinking around. >> this should happen in april if everything goes according to plan. >> i think the extraordinary thing about your country is this is, in many ways, the crossroads of asia. it is a beautiful country, a country endowed with enormous advantages and wealth and resources, and it shouldn't be a country as poor as it is today. and i think there are huge opportunities for cooperation
and trade and working with your neighbors and with countries further away like my own. so i am hugely optimistic if we can make these political changes that burma can have a very bright economic future. there's no reason why your country shouldn't be growing and succeeding in the way that other neighboring countries have done. and as for the relationship with china, that is always going to be a matter for your country and for your politicians. but i think it's in everyone's interest that we see a china that is growing and succeeding as part of the world economy. >> i have two question. first one, and he had the ability -- >> britain is the largest donor
to burma. we're very proud of that. that money does not go to the government. that is money that goes in humanitarian aid via nongovernment organizations and in other ways to help feed people, to help improve maternal health, to help vaccinate children, to try and make sure that there is a better quality of life. and as your country develops and as sanctions are suspended, there will be further opportunities to make sure our aid is not only helping to save lives as it does today in a country with high childhood mortality, but also to make sure it helps enhance the capacity of the country to have -- to tackle problems such as corruption and the rule of law. and the honest deli are you of politics. so we are committed to burma. we are friend of burma. we want to see your country succeed. we think there is immense potential. we think you have struggle and had suffered for too long under
dictatorship that you deserve the dignity that freedom, that choice, that democracy, and that economic progress can bring, and we want to be your partners in helping you to achieve that. >> welcome to "g.m. it the." for the last 20 minutes or, so you have been watching an extraordinary and historic news conference with david cameron, british prime minister, and burma's pro democracy leader, aung san suu kyi. the two of them are leaving the podium now. but for 20 minutes or so, we heard the warmest of words from the brittish prime minister
explaining that he was in burma, the first western leader to visit burma since the process of opening up and democratization began. he said he was there as a friend of the burmese people. i suppose the main newsline to come out was that david cameron is quite clear now that it is time to suspend the sanctions that have been imposed upon the burmese government for so long. all of the sanctions should be suspended, he said, except those that involve the arms embargo. with me is our world affairs correspondent, nick childs. he's been watching that extraordinary news conference with me. nick, is it now straightforward? as cameron has said it and the e.u. presumably is backing him, european union sanctions at least will be suspended very soon. >> i think that's a very strong indication, and yes, you're right, it was remarkable seeing those pictures. david cameron, apart from being the first serving prime minister to visit the country
since independence, also the very fact that his symbolic presence in the aftermath of these remarkable elections that have taken place i think sends a very strong message. but it's not just as britain itself, but what david cameron represents. and yes, that was a very strong message that certainly britain would be backing, and i think there is a strong impetus to do what he said as far as the e.u. is concerned, and he is a major leader in the e.u. to suspend sanctions, and he made the point suspend, not completely withdraw sanctions, because while he made a lot about the -- about what these elections represent and the progress that has been made as far as the outside world is concerned in burma, there's also a long way to go and this is not irreversible as far as the west
is concerned. but i think also because britain is, you know, very close to the united states, and while the similar wlism of his presence is significant in terms of the substance of relationships and the substance of recent visits, perhaps the arrival of the u.s. secretary of state, hillary clinton, last december was in many ways a greater substantial importance. but clearly mr. cameron will be reporting back to president obama as well on what he's found in his discussions that have been taking place there. >> nick, thank you very much. it's just interesting, as we saw the final pictures of the two of them, aung san suu kyi has now been invited to the u.k. in june. for so many years she couldn't leave the country, because she knew if she did she would never be allowed back in. but now she's going to consider coming to the u.k. in the coming summer. now let's move on to syria, where the uneasy truce between the assad regime and syria's rebels is being monitored hour by hour. there have been reports of sporadic clashes. rebel sources say as many as 20 people have been killed in the last 24 hours. but the levels of violence are markedly down. the real test may come in the
next few hours. opposition groups have called for mass protest demonstrations after friday prayers. it's not clear how security forces will respond. our correspondent, jim muir, is monitoring events from neighboring lebanon. he joins me now from beirut. jim, i have to ask you, what are the latest reports you're getting about mass demonstrations, about any violence across the country? >> well, there has been a number of demonstrations coming out of moscow after friday prayers. we're getting reports from quite a number of areas. there was very tight security, security forces ringing the mosks and so on, and there are reports of shooting breaking out not so far that i've heard, shooting at the demonstrators, but shooting in the air to frighten them away and disperse them, tear gas being used in one or two places too. i'm not aware at the moment of reports of any casualties from what you might want to call them, skirmishes or whatever after friday prayers, but obvious there will have been
some big demonstrations. in some places, there have been live feeds from some of them. but it will be some time, i think, before -- it usually takes two or three hours before all the news comes through from various manifestations taking place around the country. >> to be clear, jim, the annan plan asked for, demanded the pullback of syrian forces from the key flash point towns and cities. as we understand it, that has not happened, has it? >> no, it hasn't happened. i think in some places they tried to kind of conceal the military presence, but certainly there hasn't been any withdrawal. you may recall under the arab peace plan, they were supposed to withdraw, and they actually took cameras and showed columns of tanks moving off down the road. there's been none of that on this occasion. they are still basically there, perhaps slightly more embedded in the wood work. but i think it may take another round of dim increase, perhaps more russian arm twisting behind the scenes to get the
syrians to comply, because it will be a major step if they do pull the military out with heavy weapons and they've done so much damage with tanks and so on, because they would risk, as they see it, and in fact is the case, that vacuum being filled by the opposition, whether peacefully or by armed men moving in. so they risk losing quite large parts of the country, as they actually release their grip, although there are other security agencies. there's 17 different security groups, intelligence and so on, and they will presumably take on some of the task of keeping the regime's iron grasp on areas which would otherwise slip out of the regime's control. >> jim, thank you, and, of course, as you say, we will keep monitoring events in syria very closely here on "bbc world news." now, staying in the middle east, egypt's first post-revolutionary presidential election may be six weeks away, but political tensions are already rising. the decision of hosni mubarak's
former intelligence chief to run for the top job has prompted fury amongst many opponents of the current military government. today, the muslim brotherhood has called for mass demonstrations against him, who in turn has said his mission is to prevent egypt becoming an islamist state. well, we can joan our cairo correspondent, jon leyne, live there. i can see what looks like thousands of people behind you. what is the muslim brotherhood's presence on the street today? >> i think certainly a big demonstration, but not the biggest, i have to say. you can actually move, which sometimes you couldn't in previous demonstrations by the brotherhood or the other various opposition forces. they're coming out to protest against the candidacy of omar suleiman, the former intelligence chief, but also to lay down a marker to say, look, if he gets elected, if there's any suspicion of fraud in the he electric, this is just a
foretaste of what you will see from what is still the most organized political force in egypt. but we can see, even here today, some signs of the confused state of politics, that two or three very serious islamist candidates, the muslim brotherhood got one candidate, but they're candidates. so they're divided at the pro regime forces are divided, so, frankly, who is going to not only win the presidency, but who's going to get to the runup. at the moment, it's anybody's guess. it's a very confused state of politics, but we're certainly seeing another round of confrontation here between the muslim brotherhood and the ruling military regime. >> and let me ask you about one other element of confusion, jon. as we've discussed, the candidacy of omar suleiman could be highly controversial over the next few weeks, but as i understand it, there are attempts in the new egyptian parliament to ban him from
running because ice closely associated with the mubarak regime. is it likely his candidacy could be blocked? >> the parliament has passed a law to block him and other senior former regime officials, but i don't think realistically it's anything more than posturing. it won't get signed off, certainly not before the candidates testify before the he leble commission. on the other side, this is a possibility that the leading muslim brotherhood, hard-liners, will be disqualified from standing as well. >> jon in tahrir square, thank you very much for joining us here on g.m.t. that is another story we'll continue to follow. we have a lot more to come in the next few minutes here on g.t.k., including north korea's failed rocket launch. do stay with us here on "bbc world news."
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