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EU Delegation Presses Burma on Human Rights - 2002-09-11


The European Union says Burma can expect a positive response if it moves to improve the political situation in the country.

The four-member EU delegation issued a statement after wrapping up a three-day visit to Burma.

In its statement, the delegation said the "European Union stands ready to respond positively and proportionately to substantive improvement in the political climate of the country."

The delegation called on Burma's military government to release all prisoners of conscience and improve human rights, particularly for the country's ethnic minorities.

Human rights organizations say Burma continues to hold than 1,000 political prisoners.

During its fact-finding mission, the delegation was not able to meet with any of Burma's senior ruling generals. Officials did, however, talk with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The delegation will present its findings next month at a meeting to review European sanctions on Burma.

The EU visit is the latest in a series by foreign officials to encourage the government to hold substantive talks with the democratic opposition of political transition in Burma.

The two sides have been engaged in private dialogue for two years and that has resulted in a series of confidence building measures. Hundreds of political prisoners have been freed, the opposition National League for Democracy has been allowed to resume limited activity and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest and permitted to travel around the country.

The NLD, backed by international envoys, says it is now time to talk about tough issues, specifically moving Burma toward democracy.

The military government, which prevented the NLD from taking power after the 1990 elections, says it will move at a pace designed not to destabilize the country.

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