EU extends Myanmar sanctions

Other News Materials 29 April 2008 23:18 (UTC +04:00)

The European Union on Tuesday extended its sanctions targeting the Myanmar regime for 12 months and threatened to extend them amidst ongoing concerns over the political situation there, the dpa reported.

At a meeting in Brussels, the foreign ministers of the bloc's 27 member states agreed to extend the current range of sanctions covering travel, investment and trade, and "reiterated their readiness to introduce further restrictive measures in light of developments on the ground."

The ministers also called for an international embargo on arms exports to the regime.

They further criticized Myanmar's proposed new constitution, which is to be the subject of a referendum on May 10, saying that it "would foresee restrictions on the eligibility for high political office, allow the military to suspend the constitution at will (and) fail to accommodate the country's ethnic diversity."

And they repeated earlier calls for the release of political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

However, the EU has only limited influence in Myanmar, since its trade with the country is minimal and it is far away from the scene.

China is widely seen as being the most important player in the region, but the EU is keen to avoid an open confrontation with Beijing over the issue, as China is one of its most important trading partners and its single largest supplier of manufactured goods.