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Myanmar’s U.N. envoy tells U.S. lawmakers more sanctions needed

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's United Nations ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun addresses the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations told the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that Washington should target the state-run Myanmar oil and gas company and a state-owned bank with sanctions.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, a representative of elected lawmakers who oppose Myanmar’s military junta, also warned that the crisis triggered by a Feb. 1 coup in the Southeast Asian nation threatened regional security.

The Biden administration has denounced the coup and imposed sanctions on the generals who led it as well as some of their family members and businesses that provide them with revenue.

The Myanmar ambassador told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that as well as the military-run Myawaddy and Innwa banks, the United States should slap sanctions on the state-owned Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

MOGE operates offshore gas fields in joint ventures with international firms, including U.S.-based Chevron and France’s Total, while MFTB conducts transactions in foreign currencies for Myanmar’s government.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group says security forces have killed at least 766 civilians since the coup, which sparked nationwide protests.

Some pro-democracy activists have traveled to Myanmar’s mountainous borderlands to join armed groups fighting for ethnic autonomy, raising fears of a spiraling conflict.

“I wish to stress that Myanmar is not just witnessing another major setback to democracy, but also the crisis is threatening the regional peace and security,” said Kyaw Moe Tun, who dramatically broke with the military junta in February, but has retained the country’s seat at the United Nations.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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