By Simon Farnsworth
British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the suspension of sanctions on Burma in recognition of democratic progress in the Asian state.
Speaking with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon today, Mr Cameron said that “suspending rather than lifting sanctions is the right answer” as this would encourage further progress in democracy.
“I do think it is important to send a signal that we want to help see the changes that can bring the growth of freedom, of human rights and democracy in your country,” Cameron said.
Ms Suu Kyi agreed with the PM and said the suspension of sanctions would “strengthen the hand of the reformers.”
Burma’s authoritarian military rulers have recently began to loosen their tight grip on power after decades in which simple freedoms were quashed.
In the last 12 months the state has released hundreds of political prisoners and held democratic elections on April 1.
Hillary Clinton labelled these by-elections as “an important step in Burma’s democratic transformation.”
The elections saw Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party win 43 of the 44 seats it stood for.
The visit of David Cameron is a huge step for Burma who for so long shunned the international community.
British Ambassador to Burma, Andy Heyn, wrote on the Foreign Offices website that the visit shows “a clear statement of the British government’s intention to support the president and Aung San Suu Kyi.
“When I arrived here in July 2009, the prospect of such a senior visit was so far-fetched as to be absurd,” said the Ambassador.
EU foreign ministers are to discuss their stance towards Burma on April 23 and it is highly likely the sanctions will be lifted but with conditions attached.