EU to suspend Myanmar sanctions for 1 year

April 19, 2012 - 9:56 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union will suspend most sanctions against Myanmar for a year while it assesses the country's progress toward democracy, officials said Thursday.

The officials said that while the decision would be formally taken by the EU's 27 foreign ministers when they meet Monday in Luxembourg, it has already been agreed in principle. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to divulge information not yet officially announced.

The sanctions will be suspended for a year, with the possibility of a review in six months, the officials said. The sanctions currently target more than 800 companies and nearly 500 people, and also include the suspension of some development aid.

An embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression will remain in place, however.

Myanmar, long a dictatorship, appears to be undergoing a remarkable transition. Last year, the junta ceded power to a new government that has embarked on widely praised reforms, including opening a dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and allowing her to run for — and win — a seat in parliament.

British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Myanmar, also known as Burma, earlier this month, becoming the first leader of a major western country to visit the nation since the relaxation of military rule. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton plans to travel to the country at the end of the month.