Britain’s Burma-Bound PM Hints at Sanction Relief

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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British Prime Minister David Cameron says his country could soon ease sanctions on Burma, as he prepares to make an historic visit to the once-isolated country.

Mr. Cameron told the BBC on Thursday that Britain will be quick to “respond in kind” if Burma continues making democratic progress. But he said he wants to witness the changes first-hand before making any decisions.

The prime minister on Friday will become the first major Western leader to travel to Burma since it ended five decades of military rule last year.

Mr. Cameron is due to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose political party claimed a landslide victory in parliamentary by-elections this month.

His five-day Southeast Asian tour has also included visits to Indonesia and Malaysia.

The United States announced last week it is easing some sanctions on Burma, including restrictions on travel and investment. Other Western nations are also re-examining their policies following April 1 by-elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy captured 43 of 45 available seats.

She and her allies will take their seats on April 23, becoming the main opposition party in a parliament dominated by military-backed political parties.

The NLD boycotted the 2010 elections that ended decades of military rule in Burma. Since taking office a year ago, President Thein Sein has enacted a series of democratic reforms, including greater press freedom and the release of many political prisoners.