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Myanmar says U.N. calls for sanctions, arms embargo a bid to harm country

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YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s foreign ministry on Tuesday denounced a United Nations report that urged world leaders to cut ties with military-linked companies and impose an arms embargo over the Rohingya crisis, saying it was intended to harm the country.

A panel of U.N. experts urged world leaders on Monday to impose targeted financial sanctions on companies linked to the military and said foreign firms doing business with them could be complicit in international crimes.

More than 730,000 Rohingya, members of a persecuted Muslim minority, fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh amid a military-led crackdown in August 2017 that the U.N. and Western countries have said included mass killings and gang-rapes.

The investigators identified at least 59 foreign companies with commercial ties to the Myanmar military and 14 companies that have sold weapons and related equipment to security forces since 2016, including state-owned entities in Israel, India, North Korea and China.

Any foreign business activity involving the army and its conglomerates “posts a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law”, the report said.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday the U.N. had exceeded its mandate in setting up the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which produced the report. The same panel in 2018 determined the crackdown on Rohingya was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

“The Government of Myanmar categorically rejects the latest report and its conclusions,” the ministry said in a statement, calling the report an “action intended to harm the interests of Myanmar and its people”.

“We adhere firmly to the position that cooperation should be the basis for the resolution of international issues, including that of human rights,” the ministry said.

“We do not believe that economic sanctions will resolve the challenges that need to be overcome,” it added.

(Reporting by Poppy Elena McPherson; editing by Darren Schuettler)

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