EU to Suspend Most Burma Sanctions for a Year

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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European Union officials have reached a preliminary decision to lift most sanctions against Burma for one year in response to the country's recent democratic reforms.

Several EU diplomats said Thursday almost all sanctions against Burma are expected to be suspended, with the exception of an arms embargo.

The move is expected to be approved on Monday during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Officials say the 12-month suspension is meant to encourage additional reforms by Burma's nominally civilian government, which took power last year after decades of military rule.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will become the latest foreign official to visit the once-isolated country when she travels to Burma next week.

Earlier this week, Ashton said the EU is ready to enter an “active collaboration” with Burma to “assist the reform process and to contribute to economic, political and social development.”

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.

Several Western nations, including the United States and Britain, have rewarded those reforms by lifting some of the many long-standing sanctions against Burma.

But many foreign governments are waiting to see if Burma will release additional political prisoners and end decades-long conflicts with rebel groups before they lift the remaining sanctions.