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White House Dismisses Lifting of Restrictions in Burma


The White House dismissed Burma's moves Saturday to ease restrictions it imposed as part of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators last month.

Loudspeaker trucks announced the government had lifted a curfew and ban on gatherings of more than five people in the country's largest city of Rangoon.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called the announcement a bad sign, suggesting it was evidence the Burmese government had jailed or chased away dissidents.

On Friday, President Bush announced new sanctions against Burma's military government, for its continued persecution of the pro-democracy opposition.

Mr. Bush ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to put additional economic restrictions on Burma's leaders and individuals who support them. He also instructed the Commerce Department to tighten its export controls for Burma.

The president also urged Burma's neighbors - naming China and India - to put more pressure on the military government. He also praised the European Union and Australia for imposing sanctions.

Burmese authorities have continued to arrest protesters who participated in demonstrations last month. The government says hundreds are still being held and interrogated.

The president said if the Burmese government wants reconciliation it must release all political prisoners and enter negotiations with the opposition.

He said additional sanctions against the government are possible.

Last month, Mr. Bush applied sanctions to most of the top military commanders in Burma.

Some information for this report provided by AP.