U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he intends to introduce legislation to impose additional sanctions against Burma in near future. The Republican Senator made this comment during the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the 2004 budget request for the State Department on Wednesday.
In his speech, Senator McConnell said, "As predicted, we have not seen progress in the dialogue between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi since her release from her house arrest. The news out of Burma reports no signs of reconciliation - only continued repression of the people of Burma by the SPDC, brutal rapes of ethnic girls and women, and unwillingness to meet with the NLD, the UN special envoy, and ethnic nationalities."
Regarding Burma's anti-narcotics effort, Mr. McConnell said, "I applaud the State Department's recommendation to the White House that the regime in Burma should not be certified as making progress or cooperation with the United States on counternarcotics matters," Senator McConnell said.
He also proposed further sanctions against the Burmese military regime in the future.
He said, "It is clear that additional sanctions against the junta in Rangoon are warranted, and I intend to introduce legislation to this effect in the very near future."
Testifying before the Senate Committee, Secretary of State Colin Powell characterized the government of Burma as being – in his words -- "despotic".
"It is a despotic regime and we condemn its policies, and we condemn the manner in which they have kept Aung San Suu Kyi away from the political process and participation in civil society and civil life," Secretary of State Powell said.
He said he would work with U.S. allies in Association of Southeast Asian Nations to apply pressure to the Burmese junta.
"It has been difficult to find a solution to crack the will of this ruling regime. We must continue to work with the UN frame work, continuing to work with our Asian partners," Mr. Powell added.
Mr. Powell also said he will discuss the situation in Burma with ASEAN counterparts at regional security meetings in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in June.
When Senator McConnell asked Secretary Powell if ASEAN members really cared about pressing Burma towards democratic reform, he said, "They do, but they're at a loss also as to what to do … they have not yet generated the collective political will to apply the kind of pressure that might change the nature of this regime or the regime itself."