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Cameron: Burma Sanctions May be Eased

12 Apr 2012

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British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking in Indonesia


BBC

Prime Minister David Cameron has praised Burma's moves towards democracy and said the UK stood ready to respond by easing sanctions on the country.

But ahead of his historic visit to the country on Friday, he added: "First I want to go and see for myself on the ground how things are going."

He was speaking in Indonesia, where he used a speech to urge people not to confuse Islam with extremism, reports the BBC.

Cameron is also visiting Malaysia and Singapore on his Asia tour.

During his visit to Burma on Friday he is set to meet pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was recently elected to parliament after two decades spent mostly under house arrest.

Cameron told BBC Radio 5 live he would also meet President Thein Sein and "thank him for the work that he has done" on democratic reform.

Asked if sanctions should be eased, Cameron said: "If Burma moves towards democracy then we should respond in kind, and we should not be slow in doing that.

"But first I want to go and see for myself on the ground how things are going."

EU foreign ministers are to discuss easing sanctions at a meeting on April 23.

Some of the business delegation - which includes defence firms - that has been accompanying Cameron around South East Asia are due to travel to Burma.

However, Downing Street has insisted the visit is purely political and the businessmen will merely be carrying out "cultural" activities.

The prime minister has stressed South East Asia's growing economic and political importance during the trip which he has insisted is about boosting UK jobs and investment.

During visits to Indonesia and Japan, Cameron signed defence and aerospace contracts.

Towards the end of his time in Indonesia, he paid tribute to the country and said it should be held up as an example for other Muslim nations - especially those involved in the Arab Spring.

During a speech at Al Azhar University in Jakarta, he said that in just one decade Indonesia had begun a transformation from dictatorship to democracy - a feat which had taken other countries, including the UK - decades and centuries.

He said the UK and Indonesia had many similarities and shared interests and highlighted the 2002 terror attacks in Bali where hundreds died.

He said: "The attack on Bali was an attack on the world and it taught us just how the security of our countries is now so inevitably intertwined."

He said the attacks were just like 9/11 in the US and 7/7 in London, adding: "We were attacked by a group of people who wanted to set Islam at odds with the West and use a warped version of their religion to justify a campaign of hatred and violence."

He praised Indonesia's resilience and said the country had the ability to show the world how democracy should be.

Cameron warned of the threat of extremists to democracy, while stressing extremism was not just found among Muslims.

The prime minister referred to the violence in Syria and said the longer President Bashar al-Assad stayed, the more likelihood there was for a "bloody civil war".

Cameron said corruption could be a threat to democracy and he commended Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for fighting corruption and said the UK was doing similar things.

Tags: World, News, Cameron, Burma Sanctions

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