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EU cautious on fully liftting sanction on Myanmar

Brunei , Sat, 28 Apr 2012 ANI

Brunei, Apr 28 (Xinhua-ANI): Europen Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is travelling to Myanmar on Saturday and open an EU office in Yangon, a further move after the bloc suspended most sanctions on the country earlier this month. However, its members seems still divided on whether to fully and permanently lift the sanctions.

Ashton said opening the office would be the "first step" towards establishing a full diplomatic mission.

"We open an office so we can channel the support that we're offering, the development work to the people of Myanmar and in support of reforms and changes that are taking place," she told reporters at the conclusion of the 19th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Brunei.

"...I will open an office there which will be first step into what I hope will be a full delegation as we make the planning to go forward in the direction."

Earlier, EU has suspended restrictive measures imposed on the Myanmar government, except an arms embargo.

Ashton said there was still more work to be done before the sanctions could be lifted permanently, including the release of political prisoners and a permanent ceasefire between the government and ethnic groups.

She said EU will "act accordingly" and review the sanctions after on year.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul was quoted as saying by the Brunei Times on Saturday that a joint statement on developments in Myanmar was supposed to be issued at the ministerial meeting but EU members could not reach a consensus.

When asked about the details of the statement, Surapong replied: "The EU side cannot agree on that."

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan added that Myanmar has been a long-standing source of tension between the two blocs, and there are still "shades of agreement" among EU members on whether to lift sanctions permanently.

"One would have wished it would be the lifting of the sanctions altogether but I think within themselves the 27 members there are shades of agreement, some are saying 'they're not there yet'," said Surin. (Xinhua-ANI)

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