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US to Increase Sanctions Against Burma; Protests Continue in Rangoon


President Bush is expected to announce new sanctions against Burma as officials there threaten legal action against Buddhist monks leading the country's largest anti-government protests in nearly 20 years.

White House officials say Mr. Bush will announce additional sanctions against key leaders of the Burmese regime and those who provide them with financial support during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

Burmese monks led some 100,000 people on a peaceful pro-democracy march through the streets of Rangoon Monday.

In Burma's first official reaction to the escalating protests against the country's military rulers, the Burmese religious affairs minister Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung on state television Monday threatened to take action against the protesting monks.

The demonstrations began last month after the government sharply raised fuel prices but have since become a general protest against Burma's repressive military leadership.

Burma has been ruled by a military government since 1962.

The country's current leaders have been widely criticized for human rights violations and the detention of political activists, including pro-democracy opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Her National League for Democracy won elections in 1990, but Burma's military rulers refused to relinquish power. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for most of the past two decades.

The United Nations and the European Union each issued statements Monday calling for restraint by Burma's government and urging reform through peaceful national dialogue between the country's leaders and pro-democracy activists.

Their call was echoed by the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who issued a statement offering his support for Burma's Buddhist monks.

A number of world leaders and dignitaries have voiced support for the Burmese demonstrators.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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