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MAY 25 1998

Embargo on Myanmar stays, US tells Asean 

Source :STR Times 25/5/98



THE United States yesterday refused Asean's demand to lift the country's
longstanding trade embargo against Myanmar, saying that only "changed
policies" on human rights and drug control could make it change its mind. 

Speaking at the end of a two-day dialogue between the US and Asean,
America's Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific, Ms
Aurelia Brazeal, said: 

"This part of the discussions was in recognition that on our side, we have
some constraints, and on Asean's side, the hope that over time, the
constraints can be removed." 

She agreed that some US laws and policies restricted trade with Myanmar. 

"We did not try to resolve it" during the meeting, she said, noting that the
trade restrictions were provided for by law and could only be lifted with
approval by the US Congress. 

But "we hope they will be removed by changed policies", she said. 

She also called on Yangon's military rulers to open talks with opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi in order to remove another potential source of
conflict in the region. A US statement said: "We remain concerned that Burma
represents a potential destabilising factor for Asean itself, including
neighbouring Asean member states, due to the rapidly deteriorating economy,
the unsettled political situation and the junta's inability to take strong
action against drug traffickers and money launderers." 

Asean on Saturday asked the US to scrap discriminatory policies which hamper
trade with the nine-member grouping. 

Washington imposed trade sanctions on Myanmar after the ruling junta refused
to acknowledge the results of a 1990 election won by Ms Aung SanSuu Kyi's
National League for Democracy party. 

It said it would only lift the embargo if Yangon improved its human-rights
record and helped curb the trafficking of cocaine and other banned substances. 

Asean comprises Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.