LUXEMBOURG: The European Union suspended a wide range of trade, economic and individual sanctions against Myanmar in response to its historic changes yesterday but left intact an arms embargo, diplomats told AFP.
The decision has just gone through, said a diplomat as foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc agreed a one-year suspension of measures against almost 500 individuals and more than 800 firms.
The decisions are intended to reward Myanmar for sweeping reforms in the one-time pariah nation that culminated in opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyis election to parliament on April 1.
The European Union has followed with respect and appreciation the historic changes in Myanmar/Burma over the past year, said a statement adopted by the ministers.
As a means to welcome and encourage the reform process, the Council will suspend restrictive measures imposed on the government, with the exception of the arms embargo, which it will retain, the statement added.
The EU will monitor closely the situation on the ground, keep its measures under constant review and respond positively to progress on ongoing reforms运动减肥瘦身好方法女, it said.
The ministers said the bloc hoped to see the unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners and an end to ethnic conflict.
Great progress has been made in Burma but we remain very concerned about conflict and human rights abuses, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on arriving for talks with his counterparts.
This illustrates why it would be right to suspend, not to lift entirely the sanctions. They can be reimposed if Burma turns in the wrong direction, he said.
In a first sign of discord, Suu Kyis party announced Sunday it will postpone its parliamentary debut in a dispute over the swearing-in oath.
Despite the gathering pace of reforms by Myanmars military leaders, EU nations were split over doing away with sanctions, the likes of Germany favouring a swift lifting but hawkish former colonial power Britain keen to maintain leverage in a nation still dominated by the army.
In an about-face following the April 1 vote, however, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Nobel laureate Suu Kyi urged a suspension of measures dating back to 1996 and reinforced several times since.
In all, 491 individuals stood targeted by an EU travel ban and asset freeze, though the bloc last February eased its stand by lifting a visa ban on 87 top Myanmar officials, including President Thein Sein.
As businessmen queue up to return,Asian Dating EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week said she would travel to Myanmar on April 28-30 and had invited the southeast Asian states foreign minister to Brussels.
We will now enter into an active collaboration with Myanmar, to assist the reform process and to contribute to economic, political and social development, she said.
President Thein Sein has surprised observers with a series of reforms since taking office last year, including accepting Suu Kyi and her party back into the mainstream and freeing hundreds of political prisoners.
Western sanctions remained largely intact however as the international community balanced fears over the sustainability of the changes and a desire to bolster regime reformers who may face pressure from those wary of change. AFP