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Asia-pacific

EU mulls lifting Burma sanctions

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-18

The European Union is considering lifting sanctions against Myanmar (Burma) in exchange for the release of all political prisoners in the southeast Asian country. An announcement is expected after Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers.

AFP - The European Union is mulling whether to begin lifting sanctions against Myanmar as soon as February to encourage signs of reform after decades of outright military rule, EU diplomats said Wednesday.

Aid for the southeast Asian nation is also under consideration, as well as a visit soon by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, her spokesman Michael Mann told AFP.

"In the light of developments in the country, we have launched a general review of our policies," he added.

The 27-nation bloc's response to a string of conciliatory gestures by the nominally civilian government in Myanmar is to be announced after talks between EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

The ministers are expected to announce willingness "to consider initial steps in February" on a start in lifting the sanctions, which otherwise come up for an annual review in mid-April, an EU diplomat said.

"Some countries want to give a sign of encouragement before April elections" which will see a historic bid for parliament by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the source said on condition of anonymity.

In Paris, the foreign ministry said Britain and France had agreed to call for "a gradual revision of European sanctions" and would propose at Monday's talks "the first measures in the very short term".

But Britain's William Hague and French counterpart Alain Juppe also agreed in a phone conversation Tuesday that the EU must remain vigilant, with the democratic standards of partial legislative elections April 1 impacting the "new approach".

Date created : 2012-01-18

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