By LAWI WENG
A high-level US official told the Committee Representing People of Parliament (CRPP) on Wednesday that some existing economic sanctions may be withdrawn while other targeted sanctions may remain in place.
Aye Thar Aung, secretary of CRPP, said that Stephen Blake, the director of the US State Department’s Office of Mainland Southeast Asia, made his remarks at a meeting in Rangoon. No details of the new policy were available.
The CRPP was formed following the 1990 election and is made up of elected members of parliament and various opposition groups.
Meanwhile Nyan Win, a spokesperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD), said that the NLD urged the US government to initiate talks with the Burmese regime to help move the reconciliation process forward.
During a four-day visit, Blake also met with Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win at the administrative capital of Naypyidaw.
Burma was Blake's last stop on a tour of Southeast Asia that also took him to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
Aung Naing Oo, a Burma political analyst in exile, said that it is good sign that US officials are meeting with high-level members of the Burmese junta.
However, he said that the US will not change its Burma policy dramatically as long as the regime detains political prisoners, including democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
The US is Burma's strongest critic among the international community. In 1996, it began economic sanctions by freezing US investments in Burma because of its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.
In July 2003 following a junta-backed attack on Suu Kyi and her convoy in May 2003, former President Gorge W. Bush placed tighter economic sanctions on Burma which banned imports from Burma.
In October 2007, after a crackdown on the monk-led demonstrators in September 2007, the US used a new method by imposing targeted sanctions, visa bans as well as financial sanctions on Burmese regime members, their family and business cronies. Since then, at least six businessmen with links to the junta cronies have been placed under US-targeted sanctions.
In July 2008, President Bush, the US Senate and House signed a new Burma law, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act 2008, which imposed new financial sanctions and travel restrictions on the leaders of the junta and their associates; tightened the economic sanctions imposed in 2003 by outlawing the importation of Burmese gems to the US; and created a new position of “US Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma.”