Bush threatens further sanctions on Myanmar rulers

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Rogers, Arkansas, Oct 16: President George W Bush threatened yesterday to impose further US sanctions on Myanmar's military rulers over their crackdown on protests.

''We have sanctioned individuals within Burma and are considering additional sanctions,'' Bush said during a question-and-answer session with an audience in Rogers, Arkansas.

''But sanctions don't mean anything if we're the only sanctioner,'' he said.

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

Washington imposed new sanctions last month on senior Myanmar military officials, toughening US measures that had been in place for years but had forced little change, and has been pressing for stronger UN action.

Two weeks ago, pro-democracy protests in Myanmar, formerly Burma, were crushed by the Asian nation's military leaders.

Many protesters were arrested, and some killed, and police are still raiding homes and arresting activists.

Suggesting growing impatience with the international response to Myanmar, Bush said: ''Sometimes international bodies are non-consequential. That is, they're good talking but there's not a consequence. At some point there has to be consequences.'' Asked what was needed to bring freedom and democracy to Myanmar, after 45 years of military rule, Bush said, ''Enormous international pressure to make it clear to the generals that they will be completely isolated and not accepted into the international community of nations.'' In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey urged China, India and other Asian nations with ties to Yangon to use their influence to get its government to release political prisoners and hold talks with the opposition.

''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,'' Casey said.

''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 declined to provide details.

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.

Casey 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.


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