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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 02:36 GMT 03:36 UK
US threatens new Burma sanctions
Aung San Suu Kyi gives a news conference at her National League for Democracy (NLD) party headquarters in Rangoon, 23 April 2003
Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991
The United States is considering tougher sanctions against Burma over its detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a senior US official has said.

Measures could include freezing the assets of Burma's military rulers, banning imports from Burma and restricting travel to Burma, said Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner.

The proposed sanctions would reflect the government's view that Burma's rulers were not sincere about restoring democracy, Mr Craner told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been held in "protective custody" since 30 May, after clashes between her supporters and what Washington has called "government-affiliated thugs".

1990: National League for Democracy (NLD) wins general election while Suu Kyi under house arrest; military does not recognise the result
1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted
2000-02: Second period of house arrest
May 2003: Detained after clash between NLD and government forces

Mr Craner said he felt "outrage and disgust" that Aung San Suu Kyi would on Thursday be spending her 58th birthday in custody.

"Our worst fears for democracy in Burma have been realised," he said.

"We have always doubted the sincerity of the junta's claim to desire a peaceful transition to democracy. Now we know our doubts were justified."

Last week, the US Senate voted 97-1 in favour of banning all imports from Burma and freezing the assets of its government in the US.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on a similar sanctions bill.

'Pariah regime'

Two senior US senators have called for Washington to expel Burma's ambassador to the US in protest at Aung San Suu Kyi's detention.

"It's another way of conveying the message that we consider this a pariah regime," said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, one of the sponsors of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act.

On Tuesday, the South East Asian regional forum, Asean, issued an unprecedented call for Aung San Suu Kyi's release - breaking its policy of non-interference in member-states' internal affairs.

However there was no mention of any sanctions against Burma.

UN backed-talks

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 1990 elections by a landslide but the military junta refused to give up power.

The democracy leader has spent much of the last 13 years under house arrest. Last May she was released after nearly 20 months of detention at her lakeside home in Rangoon.

In the run up to her release, Aung San Suu Kyi was involved in secretive United Nations-sponsored talks with the military rulers, raising hopes of a breakthrough. But progress has since stalled.

Aung San Suu Kyi has attracted large crowds of supporters during trips around the country over the last year.


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