European Union lifts sanctions against Myanmar

The sanctions are suspended for one year, as Aung San Suu Kyi's party refuses to take its new seats in parliament because of a dispute over one word in the oath of office.

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YANGON // The European Union suspended its sanctions against Myanmar for a year yesterday, but will retain an embargo on arms sales, officials said.

The EU wants to support the progress made in the country "so it becomes irreversible", said the foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. She will travel to Myanmar this week.

Sanctions targeted more than 800 companies and nearly 500 people, and include the withholding of some development aid.

European and US officials have pointed to significant reforms in Myanmar over the past year, including the election to parliament of the former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose arrest originally drove the imposition of the penalties.

The sanctions were lifted as Ms Suu Kyi's party refused to take its new seats in parliament yesterday because of a dispute over one word in the oath of office.

However, party officials said the issue would be overcome soon and the president also said a revision was possible.

The National League for Democracy party objects to phrasing in the oath that says they must "safeguard the constitution", a document they have vowed to amend because it gives inordinate power to the military and was drafted during an era of army rule. They want the word "safeguard" replaced with "respect".