WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- Delays for U.S. oil and natural gas companies considering work in Myanmar would be a "strategic mistake," a U.S. senator said.
U.S. President Barack Obama last week signed an executive order authorizing U.S. investments in Myanmar. Certain limitations were made for the country's Defense Ministry and for sanctioned entities and individuals.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he was interested in getting U.S. oil and natural gas companies into Myanmar, known also as Burma, as quickly as possible.
"With China and Russia, as well as companies from the European Union already investing in Burma's energy, stalling or blocking America's involvement would be a strategic mistake," Inhofe said in a statement.
Delegates from French company Total were in Myanmar last month to discuss prospects in the energy sector.
A consortium of advocacy groups signed a joint declaration expressing "grave concern" over the decision to allow U.S. investors into the country. They said it would likely worsen the human rights situation in the country.
"Our companies, including those in the energy sector, will promote greater transparency and respect for human rights," said Inhofe.