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Cablegate: Uk Doesn't Expect Strong New Burma Sanctions From

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P 080926Z AUG 08
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C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002070

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DEPT PASS TO EAP/MLS LSCHEIBE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV ETRD UK BM
SUBJECT: UK DOESN'T EXPECT STRONG NEW BURMA SANCTIONS FROM
EU

REF: SECSTATE 83719

Classified By: A/ECON MARK C. JOHNSON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 1. (C/NF)

Summary: The UK agrees with U.S. desires to maintain pressure on the Burma regime, but claims other EU Member States are not as eager to increase sanctions - particularly financial ones. FCO is preparing a brief policy paper to address steps forward, which it intends to share with us and the French. End Summary

2. (C/NF) The international community must continue to apply pressure on the Junta in Burma, Nigel Boud, Head of Burma and Mekong Team, and Stephen McCormick, Head of International Organization Sanctions Unit, UK Foreign Office told us on August 7. The UK is fully in agreement with the U.S. that we must not weaken our approach to the Burmese leadership. Boud and McCormick described the EU's Burma sanctions as the strongest of all the EU's autonomous sanctions, but said they were constrained in going much further by their EU partners. Boud said some EU Member States were not eager to increase sanctions following the cyclone, while others - who are traditionally skeptical of using sanctions - were using the cyclone as an excuse to try and weaken the current package. Boud and McCormick applauded the U.S. measures and were eager to delve into the details of how the Lantos JADE Act addresses the third-country transfer and sale of jade or rubies - an issue of great importance to UK-based pro-democracy lobbyists. The EU has strict customs rules which bind all Member States to a rigid interpretation of "country of origin", and there are no current plans to try and modify the rules, Boud said. The FCO officials were also interested in following USG implementation of the legislation, noting that it is very hard to enforce monitoring of third country transfers.

3. (C/NF) HMG is finishing up a brief policy outline covering overall relations with Burma, sanctions, treatment of senior officials, etc. which it will share with the USG and France in the next few days. The goal is to use this paper, and consultations over the next six months, for the P3 to drive the debate on Burma. Towards that end, FCO greatly appreciated ideas from Treasury's OFAC a few months ago and has worked them into EU and French thinking. The UK will conduct extensive bilateral discussions with the French on the EU's path forward.

EU POSITIONS ------------

4. (C/NF) According to Boud and McCormick, in addition to the UK, the strong players on this issue are the Nordics - led by a forceful Danish position and then the Swedes and Finns, as well as the Czechs, Dutch and a strong and effective Irish approach. The French are in the middle, constrained primarily by their Total investments and concerns that financial sanctions could impact all of Total's operations in Burma. The French political level (Ministers) are publicly very committed and ready to act, while the official French position within EU meetings is that the French are not convinced that sanctions (at least financial ones) are the best tool, according to Boud. At the far end opposing sanctions are the Germans and Austrians - for legalistic reasons - and the Mediterraneans (Italy, Portugal), who are philosophically reluctant to believe that sanctions can have an impact. Boud mentioned that during recent meetings in Berlin the Germans pushed to "incentivize" Burma, but when the UK tried to channel that desire into increased EU humanitarian aid, it was rebuffed. According to Boud, the same countries who like the incentive idea are the ones with the smallest aid budgets. Finally, Boud mentioned that many EU countries are feeling the pressure of "sanctions fatigue" due to the Zimbabwe sanctions, considering that they have already sacrificed some business interests. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
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