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Australia lifts remaining sanctions

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Wednesday after talks at her home in Rangoon. Carr, who will meet President Thein Sein on Thursday, is expected to discuss the further easing of sanctions.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr after a meeting at Suu Kyi's house in Rangon on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Carr will meet with President Thein Sein on Thursday to discuss further easing of sanctions and development aid. Photo: Ye Min / MizzimaSuu Kyi said she welcomed Australia’s decision in April to ease sanctions against her country.

Late Thursday, following a meeting with President Thein Sein, Carr said Australia has lifted remaining targeted travel and financial sanctions on 126 individuals. But the arms embargo on Burma will remain. 

Carr said coercion is no longer helpful to the reform process, which is better done through engagement.

Earlier on Thursday, he said he invited the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to visit Australia. Suu Kyi said she would be unable to take up the invitation this year, but would visit in 2013.

Carr said he would also invite the president to visit Australia, “because I think he deserves recognition as someone who has taken bold steps and political risks to reform the system of his country, and we should honour that as well.”

Australia announced in April that it would lift sanctions against 200 Burmese officials and private citizens who were under travel and financial bans, while some 130 names will remain on the restricted list.

Australia does not impose general trade sanctions against Burma, but two-way trade is low and focuses mostly on wheat and other foodstuff. 

“We've discussed the matter of sanctions and I am in favour of suspended sanctions,” Suu Kyi said in a press conference after their meeting. “If reforms do not continue, the reward can also be taken away.”

Carr is on a three-day visit to Burma to assess how Australia can increase its development assistance. The country has been one of the biggest donors to aid in humanitarian and development projects.

Before his meeting with Suu Kyi, Carr took a walking tour of Rangoon Thant Myint-U, the head of the city’s heritage trust.

Carr announced on Wednesday that Australia would help in the preservation of historical buildings and streetscapes in the country's former capital Rangoon by providing resources for the Yangon Heritage Trust. It will also establish an exchange program for urban planners and architects to study best-practice restoration and innovative reuse of heritage buildings.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 June 2012 14:34 )  

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