EU Foreign Ministers have decided to suspend all sanctions imposed against Burma except the arms embargo.

Following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton said "the EU wants to send a strong message of support towards the recent reforms in Burma.

"There is still much more to be done and we are concerned particularly about the still high number of political prisoners held in the country. However, there are clear signs that the country has started the way towards more democracy and we want to encourage this."

The decision was taken on the first day of the re-opening of the Burmese Parliament following the April 1 by-election in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 members of her National League for Democracy Party were elected.

The EU foreign ministers, including Malta's Tonio Borg, also agreed to impose more sanctions against Syria.

The EU Council decided to adopt restrictive measures on the export to Syria of additional equipment, goods and technology that can be used for internal repression or for making and maintaining such products. It also agreed to ban the sales of luxury goods from the EU to Syria.

Ms Ashton said that the EU was deeply concerned about the situation and the continuing violence, in spite of the ceasefire.

"The repression in Syria must stop. We are working with the international community to ensure that we enforce sanctions as effectively as possible."

EU ministers also urged Syria to fully implement the ceasefire plan negotiated by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

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