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US Senator to Examine Sanctions on Burma

A key U.S. lawmaker says he will hold a hearing examining the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Burma and what Washington can do to promote democratic reform there.

Senator Jim Webb says the October 1 hearing will also focus on how Burma's history of ethnic conflicts has affected democratic development in the country.

Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The senator has been critical of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Burma. He made a rare visit to that country last month as part of a five-nation Southeast Asia tour. Critics said the visit conferred legitimacy to Burma's military junta.

During his visit, Webb met with Burma's military ruler, General Than Shwe, and won release of an American jailed in Burma for visiting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in alleged violation of her house arrest.

Webb said he asked Than Shwe to free Aung San Suu Kyi and let her participate in elections next year.

Webb also called U.S. and EU sanctions on Burma "major impediments" to the economic and political growth of the Burmese people.

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