photo by jon nicholson

news - US Senator Calls Hearing on Burma Policy

september 23rd, 2009

"A key US Senator sharply critical of US economic sanctions on Burma announced Tuesday he would hold an October 1 hearing on their effectiveness in fostering democratic reforms there.

Democratic Senator Jim Webb, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the panel would evaluate the effectiveness of the US approach.

Webb, whose home state is Virginia, denounced US sanctions in late August after making a rare visit to Burma, warning they were 'overwhelmingly counterproductive' and risked pushing Burma closer to regional giant China.

Webb's office said a list of witnesses for the hearing--typically a step towards introducing legislation--would be made public at a future date.

The hearing 'will examine Burma's current economic and political situation and discuss how the country's long history of internal turmoil and ethnic conflicts has affected the development of democracy,' his office said.

'In addition, it will review the current policy of US-imposed economic sanctions unmatched by many other countries, discuss what role the United States can and should play in promoting democratic reform in Burma, and hear testimony on how to frame a new direction for US-Burma relations.'

Webb's office announced the hearing one week after US President Barack Obama's acting point man on Burma said that a review of US policy was almost complete and hinted at changes in the way Washington has pressed for democratic reforms there."

LINK: "US Senator calls hearing on Myanmar policy" (AFP)

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