Carrot & Stick Meant to Spur Burmese Reforms

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Obama administration has announced both a continuation of sanctions against those threatening peace and reform in Burma, and a waiver allowing U.S. investment in the country.
     On Wednesday, President Barack Obama issued an executive order freezing the assets of individuals or entities threatening the “peace, security or stability of Burma.”
     While Obama recognized the progress made by the Burmese government, he said continued detention of political prisoners, the ongoing violence against ethnic minorities and the country’s continuing sales of arms to North Korea posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the national security of the United States.
     The order extends for one year the existing block on property and assets aimed at Burma’s military, which ruled the country from 1962 until last year, and its state and non-state security apparatus.
     On the same day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waived the ban on new investment in Burma in place since 1997. The move allows financial services firms to operate in Burma and investors to look for opportunities there so long as no money or support goes to the Burmese military or other security organizations.
     Clinton, in Cambodia for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, met with Burmese president Then Sein, Friday, introducing him to a major business forum co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
     The State Department also announced that it was co-sponsoring, along with the Department of Commerce, a delegation of high profile U.S. business representatives to Burma over the weekend.

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