EU still looking for dialogue with junta

Apr 28, 2009 (DVB), The European Union has said that sanctions against the Burmese regime have had an impact but can only continue to work if accompanied by dialogue.

Yesterday the EU announced it had extended its package of sanctions on Burma in light of the ruling junta's failure to change track on its human rights record.

Christiane Hohmann, spokesperson for the European Commission for External Relations, said however that they are unlikely to work alone.

"It's something that can only go hand in hand with trying to convince them through the UN process or the indirect talks we have with them in the margins, for instance in the UN General Assembly, or ASEAN meetings, to really go for a political process," she said.

The sanctions include the continuation of an arms embargo, travel bans for senior officials and the freezing of Burmese assets in Europe.

"We think we need this pressure beyond just political dialogue to make sure that we see things moving in the right direction in a sufficient manner," she said, adding that the economic blockade and prevention of travel by senior officials to the EU was having a direct impact.

"It's difficult to see the results because they [Burmese government] haven't had access to the European market for quite a while but this is the biggest single market so all the potential they would have had to export to the European market is banned," she said.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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