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Burma slams 'unfair and immoral' sanctions

Sep 30, 2008 (DVB), Burmese foreign minister U Nyan Win told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday that Burma could enhance regional energy and food security if sanctions against the country were lifted.

Nyan Win told the assembly during its annual general debate that it was the most vulnerable people, such as women and children, who were worst affected by the sanctions.

"Unilateral sanctions are also against international law," a UN statement quoted him as saying.

"They are not only unfair but immoral. They are counter-productive and deprive the countries of their right to development," he said.

"The sooner the unjust sanctions are revoked and the barriers removed, the sooner will the country be in a position to become the rice bowl of the region and a reliable source of energy."

Nyan Win urged development rather than coercive measures as the best way of achieving political progress.

The foreign minister also said that the country was working towards national reconciliation and pursuing dialogue with a range of groups.

Turning to the subject of the 2010 elections, Nyan Win pledged that the government would make every effort to ensure they were free and fair and that all citizens would have the right to form political parties and campaign for election.

The US has imposed wide-ranging sanctions on the Burmese regime, most recently strengthening controls on the sourcing of jade and other gems and freezing the assets of key regime leaders and their associates.

The European Union has banned arms exports from the EU to Burma and has also frozen the assets of Burmese leaders and imposed a travel ban against them.

Reporting by Si√¢n Thomas

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