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Australia lifts some Burmese sanctions

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With Burma taking positive steps towards a more open democracy and greater engagement with the region, Australia has revised its Burma sanctions list and reduced the number of individuals to whom it applies. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, speaking from Jakarta yesterday, said: "We hope positive developments, such as the increased participation of opposition parties in the political process, the release of around 220 political prisoners, and new labour laws that will legalise trade unions, will continue. In this context we will keep our approach to sanctions under review." Targeted financial sanctions are currently applied by Australia as well as travel restrictions to certain individuals. An arms embargo will remain in place. The new sanctions not only reflect changes to government and military structures, but also administrative updates in line with Australia's new Autonomous Sanctions Regulations. "Australia retains the ability to add individuals to the sanctions list at any time, but members of Burma’s new Government who were not previously on Australia’s sanctions list will not be listed at this time. Former Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are no longer in politics will be removed from the list, as will tourism officials," said Rudd. Further developments with Australia's sanctions will be discussed with Aung San Suu Kyi and other stakeholders, Rudd said. "There is much progress still to be made in Burma, and Australia continues to urge the release of all political prisoners, free and fair by-elections and the peaceful resolution of ethnic conflicts in Burma."

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