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Britain To Toughen Policies Toward Burma - 2003-03-08


Britain will toughen its policies toward the military regime in Burma unless its rulers show a real commitment to reform.

Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien issued the warning after meetings with the UN Special Envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail and Burma's London ambassador Kyaw Win. He also spoke on the phone with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr. O'Brien told Mr. Razali that Britain's policy toward the regime will have to toughen unless Burmese authorities show real commitment to reform.

He told Aung San Suu Kyi that Britain is not convinced by the junta's claims that the political process in Burma is moving forward. He quoted the Nobel peace prize winner as saying that her National League for Democracy party is seeking to improve the economic, humanitarian and political situation in Burma, but that authorities aren't trying to meet the challenge.

In his meeting with Ambassador Kyaw Win, Mr. O'Brien expressed deep concern about the failure of the regime to seriously engage with Aung San Suu Kyi. He told the ambassador to inform Burma's leaders that Britain needs to see tangible signs of progress if relations are not to worsen.

European Union restrictions on Burma include an arms embargo, a ban on high-level visits, defense links and visas, and an asset freeze on senior regime and military members.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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