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Sarkozy calls for EU sanctions against Myanmar junta

world Updated: Aug 11, 2009 14:56 IST
Sarkozy calls for EU sanctions against Myanmar junta

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the European Union on Tuesday to slap fresh sanctions on Myanmar's ruling junta after democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to 18 months in detention.

"The president is asking the European Union to respond quickly by adopting new sanctions against the Burmese regime," said a statement from Sarkozy's office.

The new measures "must in particular target the resources that they directly profit from, in the wood and ruby sector," the statement added, suggesting that the lucrative gas industry be spared from sanctions.

French energy giant Total has been a major investor in Myanmar's Yadana gas field since 1992. Production from Yadana represents 60 per cent of Myanmar's gas exports to Thailand.

Sarkozy condemned the "brutal and injust" verdict against the 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate who was ordered to spend 18 months under house arrest at the end of an internationally-condemned trial.

The sentence means that Aung San Suu Kyi will remain in detention during elections scheduled for next year.

In Brussels, the EU presidency said the bloc was ready to impose "targeted measures against those responsible for the verdict" and to reinforce some sanctions in place.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Myanmar in 1996, banning arms exports, imposing visa restrictions on junta allies aqnd families, limiting diplomatic contacts and freezing officials' offshore accounts.

New measures were taken in 2007 after a crackdown on pro-democracy protests by Buddhist monks, banning European firms from importing wood, minerals, gems and metals from Myanmar.

"This political trial is solely aimed at preventing Augn San Suu Kyi from waging her struggle for a democratic and free Burma," said the Elysee statement.

"The Burmese authorities confirm by this iniquitous decision that they have chosen to ignore the urgent messages from the international community," it added.