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                         Opposition Praises Burma

                         By GRANT PECK 
                         Associated Press Writer 
                         Tuesday, April 22, 1997 4:03 pm EDT 

                         BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Opponents of Burma's military
                         regime praised the Clinton administration Tuesday
for banning new
                         U.S. investment in Burma, saying Washington had
fulfilled its
                         promise to take action against a junta accused of

                         But Unocal Corp., which has a $1.2 billion
partnership deal with
                         Total of France to develop offshore natural gas
fields, objected.
                         Stakes in the oil and gas sector make the United
States one of
                         Burma's biggest investors. 

                         Unocal chairman Roger Beach said the sanctions
would cost the
                         United States jobs without ensuring an improvement
in human

                         In an interview in Bangkok with the Dow Jones News
                         Beach called the decision a ``temporary setback''
to Unocal's
                         business plans in Burma but said ``it won't change
our strategy one

                         If Clinton's move ``bars only new American
investment, the
                         government will just laugh,'' said a Burmese
businessman involved
                         in a joint-venture factory who spoke on condition
he not be
                         named. ``As long as Unocal and Texaco are in town,
they (the
                         government) will not be bothered.'' 

                         Tin Oo, vice-chairman of the opposition National
League for
                         Democracy, said in a telephone interview from
Rangoon, the
                         Burmese capital, that the U.S. move ``is one we
have very much
                         longingly hoped would happen.'' 

                         The leader of the league, 1991 Nobel Peace-laureate
Aung San
                         Suu Kyi, renewed her call for sanctions two months
ago, saying
                         worsening repression since student unrest in
December had
                         resulted in more than 100 arrests. 

                         In Bangkok, a Burmese exile opposition group, the
All Burma
                         Students' Democratic Front, called the sanctions
``a major step''
                         toward forcing Burma's junta to acknowledge Mrs.
Suu Kyi's
                         party as the democratically elected government. 

                         The National League for Democracy won a landslide
victory in a
                         1990 election but the military refused to let
parliament be seated.
                         Many of the lawmakers have since been forced into
exile or
                         imprisoned, and the party operates under tight

                         Burmese government reaction was not available
because officials
                         authorized to comment publicly were traveling. 

                         Like the Unocal chairman, other U.S. executives had
                         criticism at a meeting in Singapore, saying only
free trade with
                         Burma will induce its military rulers to allow
human rights and

                         ``Constructive engagement is much more important
for the United
                         States. We shouldn't lose what little influence we
have by pulling
                         out,'' Lloyd Bentsen, former secretary of the
treasury, said last

                         U.S. businessmen ``tenaciously and passionately
believe in human
                         rights, workers' rights and democracy ... but we
don't believe in
                         unilateral sanctions,'' added George David,
chairman of United
                         Technologies Corp. 

                         Since the military government opened Burma to
foreign investment
                         in 1988, foreign firms have announced plans for
nearly $4 billion
                         worth of projects, although less than one-third of
that has actually
                         come in to date. 

                         A number of U.S. companies like PepsiCo and, more
                         Eastman Kodak have halted operations in Burma,
largely in
                         response to a boycott campaign by pro-democracy
                         around the world. The ``Free Burma Campaign'' is
                         active at U.S. colleges. 

                         U.S. apparel-makers Eddie Bauer, Columbia
Sportswear, Macy's
                         and Osh Kosh B'Gosh halted Burma operations after
threats of
                         American consumer boycotts. 

                         The United States, however, is almost alone in its
                         European countries have mixed views about sanctions
while most
                         Asian countries adamantly oppose them.