US to impose new sanctions on state-owned banks in Myanmar

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The United States plans to impose new restrictions this week to cut off the finances of Myanmar’s military junta, according to sources with knowledge of the matter and Thai media.

Thai reports, released on Tuesday, said Washington would announce new sanctions against Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank as early as Wednesday.

Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters the information was accurate. The U.S. Embassy in Thailand said in a statement that the United States “continues to seek ways to promote accountability for the coup and the violence associated with it, including efforts to block the plan income.

“Our goal in these designations is to limit the regime’s access to US dollars and to promote accountability for the regime as it continues to commit horrific acts of violence.”

The United States and other Western countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Myanmar’s military leaders since seizing power in a 2021 coup, toppling the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu. Kyi and killing thousands of opponents in a crackdown.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military junta said it was not worried about further sanctions.

Zaw Min Tun told state-run news channel MWD on Tuesday evening that the country had already faced sanctions and would not suffer losses if there were new sanctions against Myanmar’s state-owned banks.

He said the United States was “only doing this to cause economic and political hardship.”

“Things like this will cause unnecessary delays as we move towards the multi-party democratic system.”

One of Thailand’s media, by Bangkok Business News, quoted Thai sources as saying the sanctions would have a financial impact on Thailand and other countries in the region because of their relationships with local banks.

The U.S. Embassy said it has regular conversations with the Thai government about Myanmar, including how to “mitigate the potential impact of any sanctions on Thailand or other countries.”

Thailand’s outgoing military-backed government held contentious talks earlier this week aimed at re-engaging with Myanmar’s military, saying dialogue was needed to protect its border with the strife-torn country, even though senior diplomats from major Southeast Asian neighbors continued to shun the junta. .

Critics said the meeting in Pattaya undermined a unified ASEAN approach to the Myanmar crisis, centered on a peace plan agreed with the junta two years ago. But Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who himself seized power in a 2014 coup, said direct talks were needed to protect Thailand.

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(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Poppy McPherson and Reuters staff; Writing by Kay Johnson and Poppy McPherson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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