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Burma's Govt. Doesn't Fear U.S. San

Subject: Burma's Govt. Doesn't Fear U.S. Sanctions

Tuesday April 22 10:45 AM EDT 

Burma's Govt. Doesn't Fear U.S. Sanctions

KENGTUNG, Burma(Reuter) - One of Burma's military leaders said Tuesday his
would not be swayed by U.S. economic sanctions against his country and
denied Western
allegations of human rights abuses. "It's not a problem for us,"
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt told
foreign journalists accompanying a government trip to the Golden Triangle
area in eastern Shan state.

Exiled Burmese dissidents applauded the U.S. decision to impose economic
sanctions on Burma. 

"Oh great, this is good news. We are very happy," said Aung Naing Oo,
foreign affairs secretary for
the students group the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF). 

The ABSDF and other exile groups in Thailand and elsewhere have urged the
United States and
other governments to stop investing in Burma because of human rights abuses

Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) has been accused by
human rights
organizations and many Western governments of abuses, such as summary
executions, using forced
labor and employing repressive tactics against the opposition. 

The SLORC has also been condemned for failing to recognize the elected
government of the
National League for Democracy (NLD) party co-founded by Nobel Peace laureate
Aung San Suu

"Since the SLORC came into power through a bloody military coup in 1988,
they have enjoyed
assistance from the business community, which has enabled them to
consolidate power and
accelerate their campaign of terror against the people of Burma," Aung Naing
Oo told Reuters. 

Burma has approved a total of $6.05 billion in foreign investment since it
opened up the economy in
1988. Diplomats say a little more than half that has actually been invested. 

The United States is the fourth-largest investor in Burma in terms of
approved foreign investment. 

The U.S. State Department was due to announce economic sanctions on Burma
later Tuesday, an
administration official said in Washington. 

The sanctions will ban new U.S. investment in Burma. Several American
companies have pulled out
of the country over the past few years because of pressure by human rights

Major companies still doing business there include oil companies Unocal Corp
and Atlantic Richfield

Unocal, the largest U.S. investor in Burma, said Tuesday it was disappointed
by the sanctions but
they would not affect its investment policy in the region. 

Attempts to reach Burmese government officials were unsuccessful Tuesday. 

But last week a Burmese government official told Reuters that U.S. sanctions
were like a weapon
aimed at destroying the human rights of the Burmese people. 

Suu Kyi, who served six years of house arrest for outspoken attacks on the
military government,
could not be reached for comment. Her telephone line appeared to have been cut. 

In the past she has urged investors to stay away from Burma and has said she
supported the idea of
U.S. sanctions. 

Diplomats said the sanctions would likely cause U.S. and other investors to
be more cautious in
coming to Burma. 

"They'll have to think a lot harder. Some companies may decide not to come
in. It adds political
risk," a diplomat said. 

Diplomats from member nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) said the
sanctions will not likely affect Burma's efforts to join the seven-member

They said ASEAN, which follows a policy of non-interference in the politics
of its neighbors,
continued to oppose Western intervention in Burma. 

"If you isolate a country, it doesn't go the way you want," said one
diplomat, noting the U.S. failure
to bring down the long-running regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba through a
variety of methods,
including sanctions.