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Canada drops non-military sanctions on Myanmar

(Xinhua)

10:39, April 25, 2012

OTTAWA, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Canada has suspended its non- military sanctions against Myanmar in recognition of the latter's moves towards democracy, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced here Tuesday.

Baird said he made the decision to drop sanctions after political activist Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who had spent years under house arrest, won a seat in parliament in this month's elections. In March, Baird visited Suu Kyi and conferred honorary Canadian citizenship on her.

Baird said he made his decision at Suu Kyi's advice.

During his visit to Myanmar, Baird also met with the country's new civilian leaders and said he was impressed by the country's reforms.

The sanctions on imports, exports and financial transactions have been lifted, but Canada will still maintain an embargo on arms and military technology. Baird said he wants more time to monitor the situation before deciding whether to lift the embargo.

He said the sanctions may be re-imposed if Myanmar reverses its policies of freeing political prisoners and relaxing its control of the media.

"This is progress, but much more remains to be done," Baird told reporters during a news conference in the Canadian parliament.

"We put in sanctions to try to encourage and force change," he said. "This is probably one of the best examples in the modern era where sanctions have proven very effective. Given the government has taken such significant reforms, we're prepared to give them a shot."

Canada's decision follows a similar move earlier this week by the European Union which suspended most of its sanctions but maintained its arms embargo.

The United States has not yet dropped sanctions, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently visited the country.

Baird said he hoped the thawing of relations between the two countries could result in the establishment of trade links. Myanmar is a resource-rich country with 60 million people.

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