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REUTER: U.S. to explore further san

Subject: REUTER: U.S. to explore further sanctions on Burma

 U.S. to explore further sanctions on Burma
(recasts lead to add travel advisory, more details)
    By Carol Giacomo
    WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuter) - The United States on
Thursday urged Americans not to travel to Burma because of the
crackdown by military rulers against democracy advocates and
said it would explore further sanctions with Congress.
    "Because of concern about the actions of the SLORC (State
Law and Order Council) and the potential for violence, the
State Department is recommending that Americans exercise all
due caution in traveling in Burma and consider curtailing
non-essential travel for the time being," spokesman Nicholas
Burns said.
    He noted that 200 supporters of Burmese democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi have been arrested in recent days, and
recalled that during a similar crackdown in 1988 the military
killed 2,000 people.
    Earlier he told reporters: "We do not rule out further
U.S. sanctions against Burma and we are ready to explore
various measures with the Congress. What we want to do is we
want to have an effective U.S. response."
    This was a change from a day earlier when Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State Kent Wiedemann, told a Senate hearing the
administration supported restoring democracy in Burma but
opposed mandatory sanctions beyond those already in place.
    He was reacting to a bill proposed by Republican Sen.
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democrat Sen. Daniel Patrick
Moynihan of New York which would ban U.S. private investment
in Burma and require U.S. companies to disinvest until the
president certifies to Congress that an elected government has
been allowed to take power.
    "We support the intent of the bill. We share its goals. We
very much share the concern of the Congress about the
restrictions on democracy in Burma" but have not endorsed the
legislation in all respects, Burns said, adding:
    "We are not ruling out any further course of action.
We want to see how the situation develops in the near future."
    McConnell urged the administration to call an emergency
meeting of the U.N. Security Council and impose travel
restrictions on Burmese officials in the United States.
    Burma's military rulers in recent days have launched a
massive crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
    As of Thursday 192 members of the National League for
Democracy, the group headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung
San Suu Kyi, have been arrested.
    "It's deplorable that the military leadership there would
have taken this step. And we very strongly oppose it and we
call on Burma's neighbors to oppose it as well," Burns said.
    On Wednesday Sein Win, Aung San Suu Kyi's cousin, urged
the U.S. Congress to impose sweeping economic sanctions on
Burma's government, the State Law and Order Council (SLORC).
    On Thursday Human Rights Watch/Asia, an international
group, called for "a coordinated and strategic approach by the
international community" to Burma's deteriorating situation.
    The United States has often condemned repression of Aung
San Suu Kyi and her supporters and has had restrictions on
Burma for some time, including a ban on economic aid.
    Burns said U.S. influence with other countries has blocked
most assistance to Burma from the International Monetary Fund,
the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
    The United States does not promote commercial investment
or trade with Burma and neither the Export-Import Bank nor the
Overseas Private Investment Corp. provides loans or insurance
for U.S. companies selling to or investing in Burma.
    Washington has also urged other potential donors, like
Japan, to limit strictly any development aid to Burma by
itself or by the the multilateral development banks, he said.
    U.S. policy in the past has been complicated by what some
feel is the need to work with Rangoon on anti-drug trafficking
efforts. Also, most members of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) have advocated a policy of engagement
with Burma, rather than tough sanctions.
    The United States is discussing with these countries how
to deal with the latest Burma crisis.