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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 15:46 GMT
EU ratchets up Burmese sanctions
Burma's top general, Than Shwe (file image)
Burma's leaders are subject to strict sanctions in the EU and US
The European Union has formally adopted tighter sanctions against Burma following the violent suppression of recent pro-democracy protests.

New measures include an embargo on imports of gemstones, timber and metal, and a wider visa ban against members of the Burmese military government.

The EU already has a travel ban on top officials, an arms embargo and a freeze on the junta's assets in Europe.

The new move came as south-east Asian leaders met for talks in Singapore.

The leaders of the 10-nation Asean bloc, which includes Burma, are coming under increasing pressure to take action against the junta.

Decade of sanctions

EU ministers said Asean's leaders should "use every opportunity... to maintain the pressure for a credible and inclusive process of national reconciliation" in Burma.

They renewed calls for meaningful dialogue between the Burmese authorities and the opposition.

Detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has held her third meeting with an official from the military government since the protests.

Financial restrictions on Burma going back more than a decade have left the EU with relatively few economic interests in the country.

France remains a major investor, with a joint gas project between the US firm Chevron and French Total.

And the EU's restrictions are not as stringent as those adopted by the US, which can stop anyone with links to the junta from accessing US banking systems.

Last week Human Rights Watch called on the EU to adopt similar measures.

British European Affairs Minister Jim Murphy said the EU and the international community should be prepared to take further steps if Burma failed to respond.

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