Bush declares new sanctions on Myanmar's rulers

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Washington, Oct 20: President George W Bush announced further US sanctions against Myanmar's military rulers today, saying they had continued to defy international demands to ''stop their vicious persecution.'' Imposing the second package of US measures in less than a month, Bush said he was adding more of Myanmar's leaders to a list of those already facing financial and travel sanctions and that he had instructed the US Commerce Department to tighten export controls on Myanmar.

Calling for stepped-up international pressure, Bush also urged China, India and other countries in the region to ''review their own laws and policies'' with regard to Myanmar.

''Burma's rulers continue to defy the world's just demands to stop their vicious persecution,'' Bush told reporters. ''They continue to reject the clear will of the Burmese people.'' Bush's latest announcement followed weeks of mostly unsuccessful international efforts to get Myanmar's government to ease up on repression of democracy protesters and open a dialogue with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar's generals have kept a tight lid on the country since soldiers and police crushed Buddhist monk-led street protests that began in late September.

Bush unveiled new sanctions at the UN General Assembly last month, toughening US measures that had been in place for years but had forced little change.

Under the latest package, Bush said that ''in light of the ongoing atrocities by these men and their associates'' he had designated 11 more leaders under existing sanctions and had issued an executive order naming 12 new ''individuals and entities'' to be covered by US measures.

In announcing further sanctions today, he also appealed to China and India to exert their influence, a tacit admission of the limits of US clout with Myanmar's rulers.

China is the closest the isolated Myanmar junta has to an ally, acting as a key trading partner and arms supplier, and is seen as the linchpin for any international pressure campaign.

India also has some economic sway with its Asian neighbor.

Bush earlier this week voiced impatience with the international response to the Myanmar crackdown and threatened further US sanctions.

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to strengthen sanctions against Myanmar's junta and warned they could go further and ban all new investment.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari on Thursday praised Beijing for helping to arrange his visit to Yangon earlier this month after the suppression of street protests but said he would press China to lean harder on Myanmar's junta.

Gambari is due to go to India and then China next week.

Reuters>

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