Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Burma demands end to sanctions

YANGON (Bangkok Post-AFP) - Burma's prime minister on Tuesday asked visiting UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari to push Western nations to end their sanctions if they wanted to see political reform, state media reported.

The United States and Europe have a raft of economic sanctions against the military-ruled nation to protest against human rights abuses and the long-running detention of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"The UN should try to remove economic sanctions (on Burma) if it really wants a stable political situation with economic development,'' a television newscaster quoted Prime Minister Thein Sein as telling Gambari.

"The political situation can be stable if the economic situation is stable. We have been trying amid many kinds of difficulties, but you cannot ask us to run by tying the legs with rope. You need to release the rope,'' he added. (JEG's: this sounds like an echo from Mr Obama)

Thein Sein met Gambari on Tuesday on the last day of the Nigerian diplomat's four-day visit to Burma aimed at nudging the junta toward democratic reform.

Their meeting also touched upon a rumoured visit to Burma by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"The visit of the UN secretary general depends on the time and conditions,'' state media reported the premier as saying.

During a separate meeting with Gambari on Monday, Aung San Suu Kyi told the envoy that any visit by the UN head should be conditional on the release of her and all other political prisoners.

Gambari left Burma on Tuesday after failing to meet any of the senior junta leadership including head of state Senior General Than Shwe.

Thein Sein is thought to exert little control over the country, as all real power lies with Than Shwe and the military junta.

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