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Australian sanctions on Burma eased

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In recognition of the political progress taking place in Burma, the Australian Government has decided to ease sanctions and normalise trade. The decision follows the landslide by-election victory by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this month.  The changes underway in Burma were warmly welcomed by Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade Minister Craig Emerson. "Reducing our sanctions and encouraging trade recognised the far-reaching political, economic and social reforms we are witnessing in Burma in recent times," Carr said. The changes included a cut in the number of people Australia imposes travel restrictions on from 392 to around 130. People cut from the list include the President of Burma and a number of parliamentary officials involved in the reform.  Military figures and those about whom there are human rights concerns will remain restricted. "We will continue to encourage the Burmese Government and Parliament, including by granting full political freedoms and reconciling with ethnic groups," Carr said. Carr’s words were in acknowledgement of the Burmese Government’s release of over 500 political prisoners and progress made towards peace with ethnic groups. Australia would also end their policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging trade nor investment with Burma. "I welcome the opportunities that normalised trade ties will present for the Burmese people and Australian companies," Emerson said. The ease of sanctions and normalising of trade are hoped to give encouragement to Burma’s leaders to continue their current path of reform.

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