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The Obama administration has said it would ease some sanctions against Myanmar and soon nominate an ambassador to the country following landmark elections that saw opposition gains in parliament. "The United States is committed to taking steps alongside the Burmese (Myanmar) government and people as they move down the road of reform and development," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters at the State Department as she announced a slew of measures to ease sanctions on Myanmar.
Prominent among them include sending a full-fledged ambassador, establishing an in-country USAID mission and supporting a normal country programme for the UN Development Programme; and enabling private organisations in the US to pursue a broad range of nonprofit activities from democracy building to health and education.
Clinton also announced facilitating travel to the US for select government officials and parliamentarians; and beginning the process of a targeted easing of ban on the export of US financial services and investment as part of a broader effort to help accelerate economic modernisation and political reform.
"Sanctions and prohibitions will stay in place on individuals and institutions that remain on the wrong side of these historic reform efforts," said the secretary of state.
At the same time, Clinton said the reform process in Myanmar has a long way to go, adding the future is neither clear nor certain. "We will continue to monitor developments closely and meet, as I said when I was there, action with action."
Clinton's announcement on easing of sanctions comes days after the successful elections in which Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy had landslide victory.
"The results of the April 1st parliamentary by-elections represents a dramatic demonstration of popular will that brings a new generation of reformers into government," she said.
This is an important step in the country's transformation, which in recent months has seen the unprecedented release of political prisoners, new legislation broadening the rights of political and civic association, and fledgling process in internal dialogue between the government and ethnic minority groups, Clinton said.
Clinton especially praised Myanmar President Thein Sein for initiating the reforms in the country.
"President Thein Sein and many of his colleagues inside the government helped launch their country on a historic new path. And while there is much to be done and significant tests lie ahead, we applaud the president and his colleagues for their leadership and courage, and we congratulate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for her election to the parliament as well as the election of many of her colleagues," she said.
Myanmar, ruled by military for a half-century, was subject for decades to tough US sanctions.