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Trial of Suu Kyi may dash change in US policy

world Updated: May 19, 2009 07:18 IST
Obama administration

The Obama administration has been considering whether a softer approach on Myanmar could spur democratic change in the military-run country, but the trial starting this week of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi may dash the possibility of a new US policy.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly was blunt when asked whether the proceedings against Suu Kyi make it more difficult for the administration to ease tough sanctions against Myanmar: "It certainly doesn't help."

Kelly would not elaborate, saying only a "whole range of options" are being considered as senior officials from various US agencies meet to review the policy meant to push Myanmar's junta "to do the right thing."

Even as the review continues, President Barack Obama extended for another year on Friday a state of emergency regarding Myanmar, also known as Burma. Sanctions would have expired had the emergency order not been extended.

Still, signals from Obama's administration had prompted speculation that the United States might be poised to reconsider its hard line against Myanmar.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in February, on a trip to Indonesia, "Clearly, the path we have taken in imposing sanctions hasn't influenced the Burmese junta, " she added, however, that Myanmar's neighbours' policy of "reaching out and trying to engage them hasn't influenced them either.