US takes aim at Myanmar, threatens more sanctions

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WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) The United States told Myanmar's military junta today to stop its renewed crackdown against dissidents and threatened more sanctions soon against the repressive government.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey also urged China, India and other Asian nations with ties to Myanmar to use their influence to pressure its government to release political prisoners and encourage dialogue with the opposition over the country's future.

''It is disturbing that, once again, the regime has moved forward with an additional crackdown on some of the key opposition leaders that the regime is now claiming it would like to engage in some sort of dialogue,'' said Casey of the latest crackdown and arrests.

''It's a funny way of showing you care,'' he added.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions last month on senior military government officials in Myanmar. Casey said more punitive measures were being considered.

''There are additional measures that I think you can safely say that we are looking at in terms of our bilateral sanctions and other kinds of steps that we might take,'' Casey said. ''You will probably see something in the days ahead.'' he added.

He declined to provide any details or say exactly when such measures could be imposed.

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to strengthen existing sanctions on the military-ruled Asian state.

The UN special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, is in southeast Asia as well as China and India this week trying to build support for a united diplomatic approach to Myanmar.

''We still want to see China, India and the ASEAN nations do more to be able to pressure the regime in Burma to do the right thing and to release political prisoners and engage in a real, serious dialogue with the opposition about the future of the country,'' said Casey.

He also urged Gambari to return to Myanmar, formerly Burma, as soon as possible to meet again with the military government as well as detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

REUTERS RSA PM2305

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