US President Barack Obama on Saturday ruled out any lifting of sanctions on Myanmar, saying they would remain till the military regime takes concrete steps towards restoration of democracy and release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with other political prisoners.
"We are now communicating directly with the (Myanmar) leadership to make it clear that existing sanctions will remain until there are concrete steps toward democratic reform," Obama said in his major policy speech on Asia at the Suntory Hall here.
The US had recently announced the US policy to engage the military junta in a dialogue, a marked departure from the past wherein the US slapped sanctions on Myanmar for its inability to restore democracy and protect human rights. So far, it has held two rounds of talks with the junta, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has termed as successful and productive.
"We support a Burma that is unified, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic. And as Burma moves in that direction, a better relationship with the United States is possible," Obama said.
"There are clear steps that must be taken – unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; an end to conflicts with minority groups; and a genuine dialogue between the government, the democratic opposition and minority groups on a shared vision for the future," he said.
That is how a government there will be able to respond to the needs of its people and that is the path that will bring Myanmar "true security and prosperity," said Obama, who for the first time himself was articulating his administration's policy on the country.