EU agrees to drop Burma sanctions
The EU has suspended its sanctions against Burma, but will retain an embargo on arms sales.
The measure was formally adopted foreign ministers.
Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU wants to support the progress made in that country "so it becomes irreversible." She will travel to Burma this week.
The sanctions are being suspended for a year. They currently target more than 800 companies and nearly 500 people, and also include the suspension of some development aid.
The effectiveness of US and EU sanctions has been undermined by China, India and Southeast Asian nations that maintain flourishing business ties with Burma.
European and US officials have pointed to significant reforms in Burma over the past year. These include more freedom for the media and political opposition parties, and the election to Parliament of former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose arrest originally drove the imposition of the penalties.
Foreign Secretary William Hague highlighted the fact that sanctions were being suspended rather than lifted completely.
"We remain very concerned about conflict and human rights abuses in some ethnic areas of Burma," he said.
The effectiveness of US and EU sanctions has been undermined by China, India and Southeast Asian nations that maintain flourishing business ties with Burma. EU nations are concerned that they are lagging behind in both the political and economic fields as Burma increasingly opens up.