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US extends ban on gems imports from Myanmar

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is extending a ban on imports of rubies and jade from Myanmar, reflecting concerns about the powerful military's continuing involvement in the murky industry based in conflict-wracked border regions.

Washington remains concerned about human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and the role of the army in Myanmar despite democratic reforms that have seen a shift from decades of authoritarian rule.

The reforms have led to a dramatic improvement in U.S. relations with Myanmar, and the overall trend remains a positive one for the government of President Thein Sein.

Wednesday's executive order extends the gems ban because U.S. sanctions legislation lapsed when it was up for its annual renewal in late July. The original sponsor, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, did not seek to extend it because of Myanmar's democratic progress.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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