In response to Myanmar coup, Biden approves sanctions order on generals and companies By Reuters

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2/2 © Reuters. US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the political situation in Myanmar at the White House in Washington 2/2

(Reuters) – US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he had approved an executive order for new sanctions on those responsible for the military coup in Myanmar and reiterated demands that generals relinquish power and release civilian leaders. . Biden said the order allowed his administration “to immediately sanction the military leaders who led the coup, their business interests and close family members.” He said Washington would identify the first round of targets this week and was taking steps to prevent generals in Myanmar, also known as Burma, from accessing $ 1 billion in Myanmar government funds found in the United States. “We are also going to impose strong export controls. We are freezing US assets that benefit the Burmese government, while maintaining our support for health care, civil society groups and other areas that directly benefit the people of Burma,” he said Biden. in the White House. “We will be ready to impose additional measures and we will continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts.” The February 1 coup, which toppled the civilian-led government of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, occurred less than two weeks after Biden took office. It presented him with his first major international crisis and early proof of his dual commitment to refocusing human rights in foreign policy and working more closely with his allies. Biden said Myanmar was a “deep and bipartisan concern” in the United States. “I again call on the Burmese army to immediately release political leaders and democratic activists,” he said. “The military must give up the power they have taken.” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington was taking collective action with partners in Myanmar. “We can impose substantial costs ourselves. We can impose costs that are even higher … by working with our like-minded partners and allies,” he said. said a briefing. Western countries have condemned the coup, but analysts say Myanmar’s armed forces will not be as isolated as they were in the past, and China, India, Southeast Asian neighbors and Japan are unlikely to sever ties given the strategic importance of the country. The United Nations’ main human rights body will consider a resolution drafted by Britain and the European Union on Friday that would condemn the coup and demand urgent access for monitors, a text seen by Reuters shows. However, diplomats said that members of the Human Rights Council China and Russia, who have ties to Myanmar’s armed forces, are expected to raise objections or attempt to weaken the text. Protesters returned to the streets of Myanmar on Wednesday despite the shooting of a young woman the day before, with some displaying humor to emphasize their peaceful opposition to the military takeover. The protests have been the largest in Myanmar in over a decade, reviving memories of nearly half a century of direct army rule, peppered with bloody army crackdowns, until the military began to relinquish some power in 2011. The military justified his inauguration saying a nov. Election 8, which was won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) by an overwhelming majority, was a fraud. The electoral commission dismissed the army’s complaints. While Biden did not specify who would be hit with new sanctions, Washington is likely targeting coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and other top generals who are already under sanctions imposed by the United States in 2019 for abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities. It could also target the two major military conglomerates, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corp, companies with investments that span sectors such as banking, gemstones, telecommunications and clothing. Japan’s Foreign Ministry said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi agreed in a phone call to urge Myanmar authorities to immediately stop the violence against protesters. There were no reports of violence on Wednesday, and in many places the protests took on a festive air, with bare-chested bodybuilders, women in ball gowns and wedding dresses, farmers on tractors and people with their pets. Thousands of people joined the demonstrations in the main city of Yangon, while in the capital, Naypyitaw, hundreds of government workers marched in support of a growing campaign of civil disobedience. The Biden administration has been working on its Myanmar policy with fellow Democrats and Republicans. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke on Wednesday with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who has a long-standing interest in the country and a close relationship with Suu Kyi, said a McConnell aide. Suu Kyi, 75, won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning for democracy and remains popular at home despite damage to her international reputation by the plight of the Rohingya. He has spent nearly 15 years under house arrest and is now facing charges for illegally importing six walkie-talkies. Her lawyer says they haven’t allowed her to see her.