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EU Eases Sanctions Against Certain Burmese Government Members

The European Union has eased economic and political sanctions against certain civilian members of the new Burmese government.

The Council of the European Union, meeting Tuesday in Luxembourg, says it hopes a greater "civilian character of the government" will lead to "much needed new policies."

The EU will lift visa bans for one year on certain civilian members of the government, including the foreign minister. It also says a ban on high level visits to Burma would be lifted, anticipating access to senior levels of the government and key opposition figures. The EU says it would assess the new government by its deeds and review the sanctions accordingly.

The EU move was spawned in part by a report last month from the International Crisis Group, which said sanctions imposed on Burma's government, and renewed every year, have not worked.

The report said those sanctions have had a "negative impact" on the population they were designed to protect.

The party of Nobel prize winning opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent much of the past decade under house arrest in Rangoon, has offered lukewarm support for easing sanctions against the Burmese government.

Her National League for Democracy has said such action should only come party after the Burmese starts releasing some 2,200 opposition figures and their supporters currently languishing in Burmese prisons.