Obama Softens Some Sanctions on Burma

President Obama today announced his administration is easing restrictions on U.S. companies seeing to "responsibly do business in Burma."

"Easing sanctions is a strong signal of our support for reform, and will provide immediate incentives for reformers and significant benefits to the people of Burma," Obama said in a written statement.

The president was following up on his pledge from last November to "forge a new relationship" with Burma when that country's repressive regime released some political prisoners, eased some restrictions on media and began a dialogue with prominent dissident and Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The administration, however, specifically excluded "the armed forces and Ministry of Defense-owned entities" and, through an Executive Order, gave the Secretary of the Treasury the ability to expand sanctions "to those who undermine the reform process, engage in human rights abuses, contribute to ethnic conflict, or participate in military trade with North Korea."

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"This Order is a clear message to Burmese government and military officials: those individuals who continue to engage in abusive, corrupt, or destabilizing behavior going forward will not reap the rewards of reform," Obama said in the statement.

The statement didn't enumerate the specific restrictions that have been eased but added that "responsible investment will help facilitate broad-based economic development, and help bring Burma out of isolation and in to the international community. My Administration will continue to support the Government of Burma in its efforts to work toward international standards for economic growth, responsible governance, and human rights."

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