Britain’s Cameron, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi Back Suspending Sanctions

Posted April 13th, 2012 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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British Prime Minister David Cameron and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have announced they support suspending sanctions on the former military state as a response to democratic reforms.

Mr. Cameron's one-day visit to the former British colony is the first by a Western head of government since the Burmese military seized power over the nation in 1962. He met with Aung San Suu Kyi at her lakeside home in Rangoon.

Mr. Cameron said an arms embargo on the east Asian nation should remain in place, and he and Aung San Suu Kyi agreed that suspension of the sanctions should be linked to continuing democratic reform in the heavily controlled state.

Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party claimed a landslide victory in parliamentary by-elections this month. The opposition leader has spent most of the past two decades in detention.

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.

Mr. Cameron met with the Burmese president earlier Friday, in the administrative capital of Naypytaw.

Mr. Cameron told the BBC on Thursday that Britain could soon ease sanctions on Burma, but he said he wanted to witness the changes first-hand before making any decisions.

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