US senators urge tougher Myanmar sanctions
The United States should reject calls to ease sanctions on Myanmar junta members and instead name a special envoy to give the measures more bite, four US senators said in a letter released Thursday.
"With the regime's recent moves and persistent human rights abuses, conditions do not currently exist to meet the necessary criteria to consider an easing of sanctions," they wrote to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer and Republican Senator Mark Kirk signed the letter.
The lawmakers pointed to recent comments by Myanmar's opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on the issue and said "we agree that sanctions should be maintained until the regime undertakes serious reforms."
The group urged Clinton to name a "Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma" to work with Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) "to ensure that sanctions are more effective and better utilized."
The lawmakers also urged Clinton "to exercise the authority for additional banking sanctions against Burma's leaders explicitly provided by Congress" in a law meant to pry Myanmar open to democratic and free-market reforms.
European diplomats recently held talks with Suu Kyi, 65, and other opposition members about the possibility of lifting the sanctions, which global think-tank International Crisis Group has criticized as "counterproductive."