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EU Official Says 27-Nation Bloc to Extend Sanctions Against Burma


A European Union official says the 27-nation bloc is preparing to extend its political and economic sanctions against the military regime in Burma.

Slovenia's State Secretary for European Affairs, Janez Lenarcic, whose country is the current EU president, said on Wednesday that EU ministers will decide on a sanctions extension during a meeting next week in Luxembourg.

He says he expects the sanctions will be extended by 12 months.

Lenarcic said the EU will urge Burma's authorities to pave the way for a transition to a civilian government, release political prisoners and stop the crackdown on the opposition.

Burma's referendum on a draft constitution is being conducted on May 10.

The opposition says the constitution, if approved, would only strengthen the military regime.

The U.S. on Wednesday circulated a revised draft Security Council statement, urging Burma to initiate dialog with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since 2003. The non-binding statement also calls for the regime to allow the Nobel Prize laureate and other political actors to fully participate in the referendum.

The U.S. envoy to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, told reporters it is very important that the council sends a strong and clear message that the plebiscite must be credible. Council member China had rejected an earlier draft.

The United States has also expressed concern over reports that Aung San Suu Kyi has not been receiving required medical care since January.

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

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