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Obama: US ready to lift Myanmar sanctions after Suu Kyi's visit

With Suu Kyi no longer an opposition figure, the United States has been weighing a further easing of sanctions against Myanmar, as Obama looks to normalise relations with a country Washington shunned when it was ruled by a military junta. Photograph: (Getty)

Reuters Washington, United States Sep 14, 2016, 06.32 PM (IST)
US President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday he was ready to lift Myanmar sanctions after his meeting with Suu Kyi

Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for the lifting of economic sanctions against her country during her visit to Washington and Obama said the US was ready to do so.

"The United States is now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed on Burma for quite some time," Obama said, with Suu Kyi sitting next to him in the Oval Office.

"It is the right thing to do in order to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government."

Suu Kyi's trip capped a decades-long journey from political prisoner to a national leader after her party won a sweeping electoral victory last year.

"We think that the time has now come to remove all the sanctions that hurt us economically," Suu Kyi said, noting that the US Congress had supported her country by backing sanctions in the past to put pressure for democratic reforms.

A statement issued by Obama said he would reinstate Myanmar to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides duty-free treatment for goods from poor and developing countries.

Myanmar was removed from GSP benefits in 1989 following pro-democracy uprisings a year earlier that were brutally suppressed by the ruling military junta.

That move, combined with the lifting of sanctions, "will give the United States, our businesses, our non-profit institutions greater incentive to invest and participate in what we hope will be an increasingly democratic and prosperous partner for us in the region," Obama said.

The United States eased some sanctions against Myanmar earlier this year to support political reform but maintained most of its economic restrictions.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)
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