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Myanmar Finds Willing Arms Suppliers in Energy-Hungry Neighbors

, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007

BANGKOK, Thailand -- In an effort to bolster its armed forces, Myanmar's ruling junta continues to diversify the sources of its military hardware, finding willing suppliers in countries that are eager to gain access to the Southeast Asian nation's abundant energy resources. Although China remains the principal dealer of military equipment to Myanmar, India has recently offered a multi-million dollar military assistance package to the junta's leaders.

According to the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch, the assistance package, presented by Indian air force chief S.P. Tyagi on a visit to Myanmar's new administrative capitol at Naypyidaw in late November, would include light helicopters capable of being modified to launch aerial assaults, avionics upgrades for the regime's fighter jets and naval surveillance aircraft. The assistance, which is likely to be provided through "soft loans" or other very favorable terms, has drawn international condemnation and sparked concerns from human rights groups that the weapons will be used to attack civilians in the government's continued assaults against the country's minority ethnic groups. ...

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