Veteran German Minister bows out

 

There were nice words but no tears shed when the foreign ministers of the European Union paid tribute to the outgoing German Foreign Minister, Mr Klaus Kinkel, at their meeting in Luxembourg.

"There were no tears, not even from himself," an EU official said after the foreign ministers formally bade farewell to Mr Kinkel, who spent his final day in office by attending the EU meeting.

"There were nice words about his special diplomatic style, his direct speaking," the official said.

The foreign ministers yesterday tightened their limited sanctions against Burma and called on tourists not to visit the country. The ministers agreed to ban the issuing of transit visas to members of the Burmese regime and confirmed last year's withdrawal of preferential trading status to the country.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrews, joined ministers from Britain and Denmark in urging a tightening of measures. Mr Andrews, who had talks in Dublin last week with campaigners for human rights in Burma, said that the ministers should heed calls by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, to isolate the regime further and her view that such moves would not hurt ordinary people.

The ministers decided to allow a Burmese delegation to attend the next EU-ASEAN joint commit tee meeting "under special conditions to be agreed upon", as Burma became a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.