US to impose new sanctions on Myanmar banks: reports

The U.S. plans to levy new restrictions this week to cut off finances to Myanmar's military junta, according to sources with knowledge of the matter and Thai news outlets.
FILE PHOTO: Soldiers stand next to military vehicles as people gather to protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Soldiers stand next to military vehicles as people gather to protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The U.S. plans to levy new restrictions this week to cut off finances to Myanmar's military junta, according to sources with knowledge of the matter and Thai news outlets.

The Thai reports, published on Tuesday, said the U.S. would announce new sanctions on Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank as early as Wednesday.

Two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the reports were accurate. The U.S. Embassy in Thailand did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S and other Western nations have imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Myanmar's military leaders since they seized power in a coup in 2021, overthrowing 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 any new sanctions.

Zaw Min Tun told the state media channel MWD on Tuesday evening that the country has experienced sanctions before and they will not face losses if there are new sanctions on Myanmar state-owned banks.

He said the U.S was "just doing this to cause difficulties in economics and politics".

"These kinds of things will cause unnecessary delays while we walk towards the multi-party democratic system."

One of the Thai media reports, by Bangkok Business News, cited Thai sources as saying the sanctions would impact Thailand and other countries in the region financially because of connections with local banks.

Thailand's outgoing military-backed government earlier this week hosted controversial talks aimed at re-engaging Myanmar's shunned military, saying dialogue was necessary to protect its border with the strife-torn country, even as top diplomats of key Southeast Asian neighbours stayed away.

Critics said the meeting undermined a unified ASEAN approach to the Myanmar crisis, centred on a peace plan agreed with the junta two years ago. But Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former coup leader, said direct talks were necessary to protect his country.

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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)

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