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Bush to announce additional sanctions against Myanmar on Friday

WASHINGTON — President Bush will announce additional economic sanctions against Myanmar on Friday, targeting individuals responsible for the military-run government's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Last month, the Bush administration imposed economic sanctions against more than a dozen senior officials in the Southeast Asian country, and used a speech at the United Nations to focus international attention on the repression.

"He announced tighter sanctions that day and the possibility of additional action if the Burmese regime did not end its repression," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "Unfortunately the regime has not responded to the calls of the international community."

Bush was preparing to make a statement on sanctions against Myanmar, also known as Burma, at 1:50 p.m. EDT in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. The Treasury Department was also to issue a statement outlining economic sanctions and additional sanctions against individuals, Fratto said.

Until they were crushed by soldiers, daily protests drawing tens of thousands of people marked the stiffest challenge to the ruling military junta in two decades. The crisis began Aug. 19 with rallies against a fuel price increase, then escalated dramatically when monks joined in, drawing world attention.

The crackdown prompted first lady Laura Bush to make personal appeals for support for Myanmar citizens, saying the acts of violence "shame the military regime."

The junta says it detained nearly 3,000 people in connection with the protests, that hundreds remain in custody and that it is still hunting for others. But the regime has released three prominent detainees, including the country's best-known comedian, as well as a popular actor and his wife.

On Thursday, the U.N. envoy to Myanmar said the country's military rulers could be offered incentives to move toward democratic reforms.

The envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, said one approach could be a combination of strong encouragement of the authorities in Myanmar to do the right thing along with some incentives to say "the world is not there just to punish Myanmar."

Earlier this month, Gambari met with the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, and detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but he has so far failed to bring about a dialogue between the two sides.

The action taken by Treasury last month froze assets that the individuals targeted have in U.S. banks or other financial institutions under U.S. jurisdiction. The order also prohibited any U.S. citizens from doing business with the designated individuals. Among those targeted for the sanctions were the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, and the No. 2 man in the military regime, Deputy Senior Gen. Maung Aye.

Responding to the continued crackdown, the State Department also has designated more than three dozen additional government and military officials and their families ineligible to receive visas to travel to the United States.

On Thursday, Bush punished Myanmar for alleged "human trafficking," the forced labor and prostitution that the United States calls a modern-day form of slavery. The Bush administration determined that Myanmar is ineligible for U.S. aid for failing to meet the minimum standards of fighting trafficking or make significant efforts to do so.