* UK says to keep up pressure over political prisoners
* Hague says no "instant and complete" opening of trade
* Still awaiting final verdict on elections
By Adrian Croft
LONDON, April 4 The European Union may lift some
sanctions on Myanmar after Sunday's elections but will keep up
pressure for the release of remaining political prisoners,
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday.
Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy won 43 of 45 seats contested, sending a clear message
to a ruling party created by the former military junta that kept
her locked up for 15 years.
Hague warned it was too early to judge how free and fair the
elections were, saying he was awaiting reports from observers
and the views of the various parties, "but certainly they appear
to have been a very important moment of change".
Hague said EU foreign ministers had indicated that many of
the sanctions imposed on Myanmar, still known in Britain as
Burma, would be lifted if political prisoners were released and
Sunday's elections were free.
"We are now working on our options about that. We want to
see the final election results and the verdict on the
elections," Hague said, answering questions from an audience
after giving a speech in London.
The EU's executive Commission hinted on Monday that the
bloc's foreign ministers would lift some sanctions on Myanmar
when they meet on April 23.
Suu Kyi, who led opposition to military rule for 20 years
and on Sunday won a lower house seat, noted there had been
voting irregularities in the poll that accounted for only a
small fraction of the 440-seat lower house and 224-seat senate.
"There are still political prisoners being held so the
process of releasing them is not complete. We will keep up the
pressure on that but I anticipate flexibility and our readiness
to remove some of the restrictive measures given the improvement
in the situation," Hague said.
"That does not mean an instant and complete opening up of
trade with Burma," added Hague, who visited Myanmar in January,
the first foreign minister from the former colonial power to do
so since 1955.
The EU agreed in January to suspend visa bans on Myanmar's
president, Thein Sein, and other senior officials following the
release of hundreds of political prisoners.
Diplomats say EU countries are divided over how fast to
remove remaining sanctions, with Germany and Italy among those
pushing for scrapping the measures immediately while Britain and
France are part of a group favouring a more gradual easing.
Hague, speaking to an audience that included representatives
of the tourism industry, talked up Myanmar's potential as a
"I think if this change continues one of the things they can
look forward to in Burma is a real booming tourist industy ...
but tapping fully into that potential does require this path of
reform that Burma has embarked on to be truly and fully
implemented. We will keep up the pressure in the mean time," he
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Alistair Lyon)