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US considers increased military ties to Myanmar

The US cut defense training to the southeast Asian nation 25 years ago amid a violent government crackdown on protesters.

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The Obama administration is considering restarting military to military ties with Myanmar despite objections by some members of Congress. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

While US President Barack Obama's administration has rolled back sanctions on Myanmar, they are now considering restarting military assistance to the chagrin of some lawmakers.

The US cut defense training to the southeast Asian nation 25 years ago amid a violent government crackdown on protesters. The crackdown brought an arms embargo that saw Myanmar turn to China, Russia and North Korea for military supplies.

Recent gestures by former junta member, President Thein Sein, toward democracy have been rewarded by the United States, including a lifting of sanctions.

The Associated Press said that defense cooperation is one of the last points of leverage the US has over Myanmar - once known as Burma.

The agency said some lawmakers in the US remain uncomfortable with prospect given the military's continuing harsh treatment of minority groups and its grip on power structures in government.

The Obama administration claims that the assistance will be non-lethal.

US defense officials have reached out to their Myanmar counterparts in recent weeks, including a meeting between US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel former junta member, Lt. Gen. Wai Lwin at a conference in Brunei.

It was the first bilateral meeting between US and Myanmar defense leaders in two decades, said the AP.

The US is hoping to build military ties with the country given its importance in the hybrid civilian-military government.

It is also likely that the US wants Myanmar to sever its ties with North Korea, while loosening the grip of China on the country.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/myanmar/130905/us-considers-increased-military-ties-myanmar