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In brief: Clinton says U.S. to ease ban on Myanmar imports

New York – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the U.S. will ease its import ban on Myanmar that had been a key plank of remaining American economic sanctions.

“In recognition of the continued progress toward reform and in response to requests from both the government and the opposition, the United States is taking the next step in normalizing our commercial relationship,” Clinton said during a meeting with President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The announcement follows the Obama administration’s resumption of normal diplomatic relations and the suspension of a U.S. investment ban.

Even before the import ban was adopted more than a decade ago, U.S. imports from Myanmar were exceedingly small. As the sanctions are now eased, specific companies will still be subject to U.S. sanctions so that increased trade doesn’t reward corruption or poor ethical standards.

French president calls for U.N. intervention in Mali

United Nations – French President Francois Hollande called Wednesday for the Security Council to approve African military intervention in Mali “as quickly as possible.”

France and the African Union would provide logistical support to a West African-led bid to recover northern Mali from Al-Qaida-linked Islamists now in control there. Hollande said at a U.N. ministerial meeting on Africa’s troubled Sahel region that “there is no question” of negotiating with terrorists.

Mali’s interim government has asked a West African bloc for a military intervention to root out Islamists who overran northern Mali after a March coup. The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, is awaiting Security Council approval before sending in about 3,000 troops with aerial support.