Iran Nuclear NewsBurma and Iran on EU agenda

Burma and Iran on EU agenda

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Press Association: European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg are expected to issue fresh warnings to Burma and Iran. The Press Association

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg are expected to issue fresh warnings to Burma and Iran.

They are planning new sanctions on Burma’s military regime, including new bans on investments, visa bans and a freeze on junta members’ assets. And ministers will again address Iran’s failure to meet international demands on its uranium enrichment programme.

They will be seeking to expand bans on imports from Burma of products including timber, gemstones and precious metals.

At the regular monthly meeting, they are expected to reiterate international demands that Burma’s leaders cease “all violent repression and intimidation” against pro-democracy demonstrators and call for the release of political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years, diplomats said.

Before the meeting began, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged the world’s largest economies to provide recovery support to Burma if its ruling junta agrees to democratic reforms. But he said the UK would push for tough sanctions against the military regime if it does not end the violence against its own people. “We cannot forget the images on our television screens of monks and ordinary citizens in Burma protesting, nor the death and human rights abuses we know are still taking place,” Mr Brown said in a statement in London. “As I have made clear, we will not turn away.”

On Iran, the 27 foreign ministers are expected to agree to send a new warning to Tehran that time is running out for the country to meet international demands over its uranium enrichment programme.

Diplomats said a statement that EU governments are drafting for today warns Iran of “additional measures” if it fails to cooperate, notably new economic and political sanctions that could include investment bans, or scrapping export credit guarantees.

The get-tough approach is being championed by French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who called on his EU counterparts last week to study new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran to honour UN Security Council demands that it suspend enrichment.

Mr Kouchner said in a letter to EU ministers that sanctions could target new companies — particularly in the banking sector — and new individuals beyond those whose assets are frozen or who face visa bans under current EU penalties.

EU ministers also are also expected to give their final go-ahead to send a 3,000-strong peacekeeping force to Chad and the Central African Republic to improve the security of refugee camps that house those fleeing the fighting in neighbouring Darfur.

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