Pentagon not for normalisation of defence ties with Myanmar

The Pentagon at this point does not recommend normalisation of the defence relationship with the South East Asian country, US lawmakers were told.

Washington: Even as Myanmar`s military is playing a significant role in the reform and democratisation process, the Pentagon at this point does not recommend normalisation of the defence relationship with the South East Asian country, US lawmakers were told.

"The Department (of Defence) does not seek and is not recommending the full normalisation of bilateral defence ties with Myanmar at this time," Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Southeast Asia, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Vikram Singh, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

One of the brightest Indian Americans in the Obama administration, Singh said that the US is not suggesting the resumption of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) or full International Military Education and Training (IMET) programmes now.

"Barring significant further progress by Burma in various areas of reform, the engagement we seek over the next year would be limited and calibrated to support reforms and help the Burmese military improve its accountability and transparency," he said in his testimony.

"We also see value in engagement that would support the institutional changes required to promote better civil-military relations, increased transparency, and greater civilian oversight through the Defence Institutional Reform Initiative, for example, which works to develop effective, accountable, professional and transparent defence establishments in partner countries."

After the reforms were kicked off in Burma, the Pentagon`s interaction with Burmese military so far has been symbolic, he noted.

"Given the complex reality of the military`s role, our policy supports two clear goals: encouraging the military to continue its support for reforms and enhancing the military`s understanding of and ability to respect human rights and civilian authority and control," Singh said.

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