News / Asia

US Senators Signal Conditional Support for Lifting Burma Sanctions

U.S. Senator John McCain (2nd R) speaks as Senators Joseph Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse (L) and Kelly Ayotte (2nd L) look on during a press briefing in Hanoi January 19, 2012, one of the stops on their visit to Asia.
U.S. Senator John McCain (2nd R) speaks as Senators Joseph Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse (L) and Kelly Ayotte (2nd L) look on during a press briefing in Hanoi January 19, 2012, one of the stops on their visit to Asia.
Ron Corben

The United States is ready to lift economic sanctions against Burma if the country’s civilian government presses ahead on political reforms including free and fair elections this April.

The call was made by a visiting delegation of senior U.S. senators, led by Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, who made a stop in Bangkok on their way to Burma.  Before the United States makes a final decision, the senators said they who say they will also look to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, Senator McCain, while remaining cautious over the reform process, said a decision on sanctions lay with the international community and judgment on the reform progress in Burma.

“There is no doubt in my mind, absolutely certain that if this is a free and fair election, there will be no problem coordinating with every other country in the world to bring the sanctions to a close," McCain said. "I have to say that I am still a bit skeptical, not a lot, a bit skeptical, but I will certainly try to keep an open mind as we go through this process.”

The delegation will hold talks with government leader Burmese President Thein Sein and pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma is to hold by-elections for the national parliament in April in which Aung San Suu Kyi is registered to stand as a candidate.

The U.S. imposed sanctions against Burma in 2003. They include bans on imports from Burma and a severing of financial services ties. In 2007, the bans were extended after the military suppressed street protests.

These included the freezing of individual overseas assets and those providing “material support” to Burma’s government. New investment by U.S. individuals and entities was also banned.

Some countries, such as Australia, as well as the European Union are now taking steps to ease sanctions after the release of hundreds of political prisoners. But other prisoners remain detained.

The U.S. government has recently upgraded diplomatic relations by restoring the post of ambassador following the prisoner release and a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Senator Joseph Lieberman said the U.S. would be looking to Aung San Suu Kyi for guidance over the timing of an easing of sanctions against Burma, also known as Myanmar.

“Our reaction to what happens in Myanmar will be greatly affected by the reaction of Aung San Suu Kyi. In other words we have great admiration for her not only for her but trust in her so I wouldn’t say we were giving her total veto but to the extent that she has confidence in the process we will have confidence in the process of change in Myanmar and as a result we will lift sanctions and grow closer to the government.”

In an interview this week with The Washington Post newspaper, Burma’s President Thein Sein, called for the West to lift sanctions. The president said his government had met international calls for the release of political prisoners, holding of elections and granting greater political freedom to Aung San Suu Kyi.  

But Suu Kyi in a recent interview said the U.S. should lift sanctions when “the time is right” and if Burma’s government had met the conditions for their removal.


You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs