France not demanding Total pullout from Myanmar
27 September 2007, PARIS (AFP) - France has not asked the energy giant Total to withdraw from Myanmar, its human rights minister said Thursday, after President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the group to freeze investments in the country.
27 September 2007
PARIS (AFP) - France has not asked the energy giant Total to withdraw from Myanmar, its human rights minister said Thursday, after President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the group to freeze investments in the country.
Asked about a halt to Total's gas exploration activities in the country, French junior minister for human rights Rama Yade told French radio RTL: "That is not what has been discussed for now. We are proceeding step by step."
Sarkozy on Wednesday urged French businesses including Total to freeze investments in Myanmar, as he called for a swift adoption of UN sanctions over the junta's crackdown on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks.
He said "France calls on all its private companies, such as Total, to exercise the greatest restraint concerning investments in Myanmar and asks that they do not make any new ones."
But Yade played down the impact of the French measures, warning they would "not have a decisive impact" since Paris was not a major economic partner for Myanmar.
"Imagine that Total pull out of Burma, what would that change?" she asked, calling instead for the country's regional ally Beijing to "harden its position towards the junta".
China "has started to evolve on Sudan, mindful of the Beijing Olympic games. There is no reason to think it will not do the same concerning Burma," she said.
Total has been accused of condoning abusive labour practices in junta-ruled Myanmar, where it operates a vast gas field in the south of the country to supply power plants in neighbouring Thailand.
The group, which says it employs some 270 people in the country, issued a statement Thursday saying it has made no new investments in Myanmar for the past decade, and had no current investment plans.
Subject: French news