Saturday, November 17, 2007

France joins Canada in imposing sanctions on Burma's Regime

Megan Ainscow , For CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, November 17, 2007

PARIS -- France and its European Union partners will follow Canada's lead and step up economic sanctions against Myanmar in the wake of human rights violations over the last few weeks by the ruling military junta.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier praised the decision Friday after meeting with his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner.

Bernier pointed out that Canada has implemented "the most severe economic sanctions in the world" against Myanmar, also known as Burma, and expressed his pleasure that the France will join in acting against the regime.

Canada announced Wednesday a ban on all exports to and from Burma, and on new Canadian investment in the country, among other sanctions.

Kouchner said that France is "working with our European partners on sanctions" and stressed the importance of dialogue rather than violence to solve the conflict.

A protest by thousands of monks across Burma in September was met with vicious retaliation by the Burmese government. Thousands were interrogated, and random raids resulted in arrests and beatings.

UN envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro reported that at least 14 people were killed in the crackdown after an investigative visit to the country this week that ended Thursday.

Bernier also acknowledged French support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, and specifically the Canadian deployment in Kandahar.

"They've provided us with six Mirage airplanes. I think this is very useful for our Canadian Forces ... and I hope we will have other co-operation but we're working together and I think this country and its government is doing its part like the other countries.

"The goal at the end is to work together to ensure that this country is more secure and after that can have some economic development. But I'm very pleased with the participation of the French government in Khandahar."

Kouchner also noted additional French commitment to Afghanistan.

"There is also material support, the support of military offices, and technicians, and I hope it will develop in the future, and also provide access to the population for better health," he said.

Canada has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, most in the volatile southern area around Kandahar.

France has about 1,000 troops in the country, most stationed with the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul.

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