Burma urges West to lift sanctions

Aug 20, 2009 (DVB), Burma has urged Western countries to remove the economic blockade on the country that it says has curbed development and blocked the path towards democracy.

An article published today in the government mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar newspaper said that the goal of democracy was being "[diverted] from its route" through sanctions exercised by "anti-government groups".

Likely pointing to the recent visit to Burma by US senator Jim Webb, who is outspoken in his criticism of sanctions on the country, the comment praised "visionary" members of the US government who don't support the boycott.

It urged "all political forces to give up the tactic of economic sanctions and collectively open the golden door to a modern, developed and peaceful democratic nation".

The article follows a recent comment by Webb, who met with Aung San Suu Kyi last week, that the Burma opposition leader could be revising her pro-sanctions stance.

He told reporters earlier this week that "it was my clear impression from her that she is not opposed to lifting some sanctions."

She also apparently indicated that tourism in Burma should be encouraged, in contrast to years spent dissuading tourists from visiting the country.

However, according to her lawyer Nyan Win, who met with her yesterday, she denied mentioning the tourism boycott to Webb.

"She said she made a remark about the issue back in 2007 that it isn't her responsibility to lift the sanctions as she was not the one who imposed them [on Burma.]," he said.

He added that Suu Kyi said sanctions should be lifted if they were indeed hurting the nations, and that there should be more interaction between Burma and the international community "only if it's started from inside Burma".

Webb was the first senior US official to visit Burma in over a decade, and the first time a US politician has met with the junta leader Than Shwe.

Burmese state media hailed the trip as a success after Webb secured the release of John Yettaw, the US citizen whose visit to Suu Kyi's compound in May triggered a seven-year prison sentence for him and her extended detention under house arrest.

Reporting by Francis Wade and Htet Aung Kyaw

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