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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    23 May 2012

Broad US sanctions against Myanmar to stay

May 21, 2012

The United States has vowed to keep broad sanctions against Burma as an "insurance policy'' against "backsliding'' on democratic reforms even as it seeks to open up certain types of investment.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday night to discuss steps to promote investment in her country and the need for progress in resolving ethnic conflicts.

"They agreed that the important progress of the past several months remains fragile and that the international community needs to help protect against backsliding,'' the State Department said in a statement.

"In this regard, the secretary assured Aung San Suu Kyi that the United States is keeping its sanctions authorities in place as an insurance policy.''
President Barack Obama's announced last Thursday that the United States was easing investment restrictions on Myanmar while maintaining wider US sanctions on the government and figures linked to the former junta.

Clinton and Suu Kyi "talked about the need for specific steps to promote responsible, transparent investment, empower reformers, and target abusers,'' the State Department.

"Finally, they also discussed the urgent need for progress in resolving the ethnic conflicts and ending human rights abuses in the ethnic areas. They agreed to remain in close touch,'' the statement said.

Meeting last Thursday with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, Clinton said Washington was determined to help end the ethnic conflicts in the country as she expressed concern about recent violence in Kachin State.

But she said "I was very pleased to hear about new mechanisms, both official and non-governmental, to encourage meaningful dialogue.''

Conflict between Myanmar's army and ethnic rebels in Kachin state has raged for a year, displacing around 50,000 civilians and casting a shadow over hard-won government ceasefires in other parts of the country.

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