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US Eases Some Burma Sanctions Following By-Elections

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces the easing some U.S. sanctions against Burma, April 4, 2012.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces the easing some U.S. sanctions against Burma, April 4, 2012.
The United States is easing some sanctions against Burma, following Sunday's by-elections in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party won 40 of the 45 seats available.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says some senior Burmese officials and parliamentarians will now be allowed to visit the United States and that Washington will lift its ban on the export to Burma of U.S. financial services and investment to help accelerate modernization and reform. .

The United States Wednesday announced five steps it is prepared to take to improve relations with Burma

  • Seeking agreement for a fully accredited ambassador in Rangoon 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 says the Obama administration is preparing to nominate an ambassador to Rangoon along with a full U.S. Agency for International Development mission and a normal country program for the United Nations Development Program.

Clinton says Burma'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 says Washington will continue to urge progress in national reconciliation, specifically with ethnic minority groups, and press for the verifiable end of Burma'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.

Clinton says Burma's leaders have shown real understanding and commitment to the future of their country, a development, she says, the United States hopes 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 Burma to be lifted to help the country's political and economic development.

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