Obama Extends Some Sanctions Against
Myanmar Despite Reforms
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[May 16, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President
Barack Obama extended some economic sanctions against Myanmar for
another year on Thursday, telling Congress the step is needed despite
some progress on reforms made by the country formerly known as Burma.
Obama notified leaders of Congress in a letter that he was
renewing for another year the National Emergencies Act, which
prohibits U.S. businesses and individuals from investing in Myanmar
or doing business with Myanmar figures involved in repression of the
democracy movement since the mid-1990s.
Obama, who visited Myanmar in 2012, said the Myanmar government had
made advances in critical areas such as the release of more than
1,100 political prisoners, progress toward a nationwide ceasefire,
the legalization of unions and taking steps to improve the country's
However, he said, "Despite great strides that Burma has made in its
reform effort, the situation in the country continues to pose an
unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and
foreign policy of the United States."
"The political opening remains nascent, and concerns persist
regarding ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in ethnic
minority areas, particularly in Rakhine State, and the continued
role of the military in the country's political and economic
activities," Obama said.
A year ago Obama lifted a 1996 ban on granting U.S. entry visas to
Myanmar's military rulers and their business partners and immediate
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A spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Patrick
Ventrell, said significant challenges remain in Myanmar including a
dire humanitarian situation in Rakhine state and incidents of
violence toward Muslims and other minorities.
He said Obama extended the penalties for another year "in order to
maintain the flexibility necessary to sanction bad actors and
prevent backsliding on reform even as we broadly ease sanctions."
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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