By Jamie Crawford
The United States eased sanctions on Myanmar Tuesday to allow for certain financial transactions that support humanitarian, religious and other not-for-profit activities in the southeast Asian nation.
The order, which was announced in a letter by Adam J. Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department, covers activities such as education, sports, religious and democracy-building activities in the country, which is also known as Burma. Support for projects that meet basic human needs such as disaster relief, clean water and sanitation are affected as well.
The announcement comes as the United States takes steps to normalize relations with Myanmar following recent parliamentary elections and the release of some of its political prisoners.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the elections a "dramatic demonstration of popular will." Clinton said the administration was working toward sending an American ambassador to Myanmar and establishing an in-country mission for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Obama administration has said it will take a measured and incremental approach to its easing of sanctions to send a signal of support to reformers in the country. Sanctions will remain in place on "individuals and institutions that remain on the wrong side of these reforms," Clinton said earlier this month.
Long ruled by a reclusive military dictatorship, a gradual thaw in relations between Myanmar and the international community began following the recent elections. The long-imprisoned Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party won at least 40 of the 44 seats it contested.