John McCain says US ‘shouldn’t rush to lift sanctions against Myanmar’

Washington, Jan 22: US Senator John McCain has said that the Obama administration should not rush to lift sanctions against Myanmar until it sees the results of a parliamentary by-election planned for early April.

“My personal view is that we should not lift any sanctions before April. And possibly not even then if enough progress isn’t made,” The Wall Street Journal quoted McCain, as saying.

“We should all applaud what is happening in Myanmar, but there are many times in history where we learned things aren’t what we thought they were. Let’s not rush into judgments we may regret later on,” he added.

McCain said he was “very encouraged” by recent events in Burma, including a mass amnesty for several hundred political prisoners who were released earlier this month.

Myanmar’s government has also pushed other reforms, including steps to ease media restrictions and lower tensions with armed ethnic minority groups, fueling speculation the US and Europe would begin to lift sanctions against the country soon.

According to the paper, McCain said he had been “puzzled” over why the country’s leaders were moving so quickly to back reforms.

McCain said he thought Myanmar’s leaders were backing reform now in part because they were “weary of the isolation” that came from the Western sanctions.

He said he also thought that pressure from neighboring Southeast Asian countries was having an impact, and that Myanmar’s leaders were concerned about the possible spread of Arab Spring-inspired freedom movements to the country. (ANI)