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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   9 April  2012

Partial lifting of sanctions by US post elections

9 April 2012
The United States is easing some sanctions against Myanmar, following Sunday's by-elections in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party won 43 of the 45 seats available.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says some senior Myanmar officials and parliamentarians will now be allowed to visit the United States and that Washington will lift its ban on the export to Myanmar of U.S. financial services and investment to help accelerate modernization and reform.
The announced five steps the U.S. will take to improve relations with Myanmar:

            – Seeking agreement for a fully accredited ambassador in Yangon in the coming days, followed by a formal announcement of the nominee.
            – Establishing an in-country USAID mission and supporting a normal country program for the United Nations Development Program.

           – Enabling private organizations in the United States to pursue a broad range of nonprofit activities from democracy- building to health and education.

           – Facilitating travel to the United States for select government officials and parliamentarians.
           – Beginning the process of a targeted easing of our ban on the export of U.S. financial services and investment as part of a broader effort to help accelerate economic modernization and political reform.

She said the Obama administration is preparing to nominate an ambassador to Myanmar along with a full U.S. Agency for International Development mission and a normal country program for the United Nations Development Program.

Clinton says Myanmar 's reform process has a long way to go and that the future is neither clear nor certain.  But, she says, the United States is committed to meeting action with action.

"The results of the April 1 parliamentary by-elections represents a dramatic demonstration of popular will that brings a new generation of reformers into government.  This is an important step in the country's transformation," she said. 

In recent months, Clinton says, that transformation has included an unprecedented release of political prisoners, new legislation broadening the rights of political and civic association, and moves toward greater dialogue between the government and ethnic minority groups.

"We will continue to seek improvements in human rights, including the unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners and the lifting of conditions on all those who have been released.  We will continue our support for the development of a vibrant civil society, which we think will greatly add to the reform of the economy and society," she said. 

Clinton said Washington will continue to urge progress in national reconciliation, specifically with ethnic minority groups, and press for the verifiable end of Myanmar 's military relationship with North Korea.

"Even as we urge these further steps, we fully recognize and embrace the progress that has taken place.  And we will continue our policy of engagement that has encouraged these efforts," she said. 

Myanmar 's leaders have shown "real understanding and commitment to the future of their country," she said, and the United States hopes it will be sustainable and will produce even more results.

"As we have done over the last several months, the United States will stand with the reformers and the democrats, both inside the government and in the larger civil society, as they work together for that more hopeful future that is the right of every single person," she said. 

European Union leaders say they might also lift some sanctions.  A summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Wednesday called for all sanctions against Myanmar to be lifted to help the country's political and economic development.

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AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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