Thursday, 12 July 2012 18:00
PHNOM PENH: The European Union's top diplomat on Thursday lauded a decision by the United States to roll back sanctions on Myanmar in reward for a series of democratic reforms after decades of authoritarian rule.
Washington on Wednesday lifted restrictions on its firms working in Myanmar -- including in its oil and gas industries -- in its broadest easing of sanctions so far, as the resource-rich country edges out of the shadow of the repressive junta.
Speaking at a regional forum in Cambodia, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton highlighted the importance of supporting Myanmar's economy, which has been battered by five decades of mismanagement and corruption.
"We've already suspended our sanctions so we very much welcome what the United States is doing," she said.
"We've got teams going in (to Myanmar) all the time to offer them support. There's still more reform to do but we're very pleased with the way this is moving."
International investors are circling Myanmar hoping for a bonanza from its energy and mineral wealth as well as a newly-opened market of some 60 million people. In April, the European Union suspended for one year a wide range of trade, economic and individual sanctions, although it left intact an arms embargo.
Playing down a race between the EU and US investors to claim a stake in Myanmar, Ashton said it was good for the country to choose between businesses "coming in to help them with issues like energy and so on... it's just great".
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012