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E-mail From Washington

From: Steve Hurst/CNN State Dept. Correspondent
In: Washington, D.C.
Posted: 4-22-97

Subject: U.S. Bans New Investment in Burma

President Bill Clinton has decided to ban new U.S investment in Burma by imposing a law that seeks to punish the military government for human rights abuses.

Senior administration officials say the shift in policy would be announced at the State Department today, perhaps by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she makes a public appearance to present a first-ever report on U.S. attempts to link policy abroad to global environmental issues.

Under the directive by the White House, which would allow fulfillment of current contracts between U.S. companies and Burma, the administration has decided to enforce a law passed in Congress last year and sponsored by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Defense Secretary William Cohen, who was then a Republican senator from Maine.

Burma has been under intense pressure over the military regime's human rights practices since it failed to allow the democratically elected government of the opposition National League for Democracy to take power after a 1988 vote.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was a founder of the party and was kept under house arrest for six years for challenging the military leadership.

The decision is sure to draw fire from some quarters in the United States and abroad because it will highlight the contrast in policy toward the Communist Party dictatorship in China and its human rights record which Clinton no longer links to U.S. commercial ties.

Washington runs an enormous trade deficit with the world's most populous country that approaches the imbalance with Japan.

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