'US sanctions policy on Burma has failed'

US sanction on military-ruled Myanmar has failed and the next American administration may change tactics to bring about reforms in the Southeast Asian state, according to the head of a top US business lobby group in the region.

'US sanctions policy on Burma has failed'
US sanction on military-ruled Myanmar has failed and the next American administration may change tactics to bring about reforms in the Southeast Asian state, according to the head of a top US business lobby group in the region.

"We can't escape the conclusion that our policies have simply not moved Myanmar in the right direction nor do they have any reasonable prospect of doing so," said Matthew Daley, president of the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business Council.

"The simple truth is that no country, not even the UK, supports current American policy in its entirety," he said at a forum organized by the Washington-based, conservative Heritage Foundation.

Daley said US policy did not have the backing even within ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member together with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"I don't think that the government in Hanoi, the government in Vientiane, the government in Phnom Penh are going to take or permit ASEAN to take drastic action against Burma," he said.

"This is an unpleasant reality, it's inescapable and I think increasingly recognized and acknowledged by the Burmese community in exile," he said.

"I think people probably see a change in approach in the future administration" — irrespective of whether it is led by a Republican or Democratic president, he said.

The comments by Daley, the former Southeast Asia head in the US State Department, came just two days after the US Congress overwhelmingly passed resolutions maintaining a ban on imports from Myanmar as part of sanctions for repressing democratic opposition and for human rights abuses.

Two months earlier President George W. Bush renewed sanctions that prohibited new investments and exports of financial services and deny visas to top officials.

Eric John, Daley's successor in the State Department, defended the sanctions policy at the forum when asked whether Washington's move last month to hold its first high level direct dialogue in many years with the Myanmar junta leaders in Beijing stemmed from policy failure.

"I won't say that our sanctions policy has failed in Burma ... it's still a policy that the administration still strongly supports," he said, citing near unanimity in the administration and strong bipartisan support in Congress for sanctions.

He chided some countries for undercutting US sanctions by pursuing a "combination of engagement in isolation" policy with Myanmar by involving very extensively economically with the gas-rich state.

"We are not going to settle the debate with the international community of engagement versus isolation. What we try to settle is at least going in with the same basic message to the (junta) about the very basic steps it should take if it wishes to engage with the international community," John said.


AFP
Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2007, 19:58
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