Tillerson says sanctions against Myanmar ‘not advisable’


NAY PYI TAW — US Secretary of State Mr Rex Tillerson said the reimposition of economic sanctions against Myanmar in the wake of the Rakhine crisis would “not be advisable” at this time, following meetings with the country’s senior leaders on Wednesday.

After closed-door discussions with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Tillerson left the door open on levelling individual sanctions against those found responsible for human rights abuses in the wake of the ongoing violence in northern Rakhine State since late August.

“All of that has to be evidence-based,” Tillerson told a press conference in the capital. “If we have credible information that we believe to be very reliable that certain individuals were responsible for certain acts that we find unacceptable, then targets sanctions on individuals very well may be appropriate.”

Tillerson also stressed the necessity of an independent investigation into the Rakhine violence.

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The statement comes after the Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team released the results of its internal investigation into recent security operations in Rakhine State on Monday, exonerating the military of all accusations of abuses.

Tillerson also announced that the United States would increase its aid to Myanmar by a further $47 million, bringing the total aid from the United States this fiscal year to $151 million.

During the press conference Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been widely criticised by the international community for not speaking out in support for the more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh, denied that she has stayed silent on the issue.

“I haven’t been silent,” she said. “What people mean is what I say is not interesting enough. But what I say is not meant to be exciting. It’s meant to be accurate. And it’s aimed at creating more harmony and a better future for everybody. Not setting people against each other.”

A senior US government official who attended the meetings between Aung San Suu Kyi, Min Aung Hlaing, and Tillerson said that the United States has strongly called for the Myanmar government and military to allow unfettered media and humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State.

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