Ramos-Horta tells US, Europe to lift Myanmar sanctions
(DILI) - East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta on Monday urged the United States and Europe to lift sanctions against Myanmar after the junta released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ramos-Horta also expressed his happiness over Saturday's release of his fellow Nobel laureate from house arrest in Yangon, where she had been held for 15 of the past 21 years.
"I'm very happy with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest after more than 15 years without reason. I see it as something good and I congratulate the military regime in Myanmar for handling this," he said.
"I'm also waiting and hoping for two blocs, namely America and Europe, which have been applying harsh sanctions against Myanmar, to lift them."
He said economic sanctions on a poor country like Myanmar were "morally not good", although Washington and Brussels say the measures are targeted at the regime and not the Myanmar people.
Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest less than a week after an election that cemented the junta's decades-long grip on power but was criticised by democracy activists and Western leaders as a farce.
The United States bans trade with companies tied to the junta in Myanmar, also known as Burma. It also freezes such firms' assets and blocks international loans for the state.
The Obama administration last year launched a dialogue with Myanmar, concluding that isolating the regime had not worked.
But it has said it will only lift sanctions in return for progress on democracy and other concerns.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Myanmar's leaders to ensure that Suu Kyi's release is "unconditional" and to begin an "inclusive dialogue" with the opposition.
The European Commission has also called for her "unrestricted freedom", amid concern that the democracy leader's release does not guarantee her political freedom.