OTTAWA Canada will suspend most of its sanctions against Myanmar in recognition of recent democratic reforms in the isolated Southeast Asian nation, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Tuesday.
Since 1988 Canada has imposed some of the toughest sanctions against Myanmar. Baird told reporters that most of the measures were being lifted but that Canada would for now maintain a ban on arms deals with Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
The European Union took similar steps on Monday in the wake of by-elections that enabled pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to win a seat in Parliament.
"This is probably one of the best examples in the modern era where sanctions have proven very effective. And given the government has undertaken such significant reforms, we're prepared to give them a shot," said Baird, who visited Myanmar last month.
"We're very hopeful and optimistic. At the same time we're not naive and we'll be watching very closely," he added, saying Canada wanted to see more reforms and could always restore the sanctions if necessary.
Baird also said he hoped Canadian companies would be able to do business in Myanmar, which has rich natural resources.
The United States said last week it was moving to ease bans on U.S. companies investing in and providing financial services to Myanmar.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer, writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)