US 'seriously considering' new Burma policy

Aug 31, 2009 (DVB), The United States is seriously considering implementing new policy to Burma, according to US officials who visited Burma last week in what appeared to be a data-collecting mission.

Three US Congress staff met with members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Rangoon on Friday.

"They came with concern about humanitarian aid. During the discussion with us, they also asked about the current political situation in Burma," said NLD spokesperson Nyan Win.

NLD members were reportedly asked about the living conditions for the 2,100 political prisoners in Burma, as well as Aung San Suu Kyi's extended detention under house arrest.

"We told them there was no proper medical assistance in the prison and that the inmates' basic human rights, such as [the right] to read a book or a newspaper were also denied," said Nyan Win.

The US announced earlier this year that it would be reviewing its policy to Burma in light of the inefficacy of sanctions.

Although an economic embargo has been in place since 1997, there have been apparently few concessions from the ruling junta, which now receives strong economic and political support from China.

The recent visit to Burma by US senator Jim Webb, who is outspoken in his anti-sanctions stance, was the first for a senior US official in over a decade.

Nyan Win said that he did not know whether Friday's visit by Congressmen was related to Webb's talks with the junta, but that it was "a possibility".

"They said the US government is seriously considering implementing a new policy [to Burma] but added that the new policy is not to be expected to soon," he said.

"We assume this group is here to collect statistics on Burma's economy and the political situation."

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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