• Kyodo

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Japan will give Myanmar ¥100 billion in loans for infrastructure development, a Japanese government source said Friday as Tokyo seeks to counter China’s influence in the country.

The yen loans will be used for projects such as the repair of railways connecting the cities of Yangon and Mandalay, the source said.

It is the first such offer by Tokyo since the opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi took office in March and comes at a time when other nations are courting Myanmar.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce the loans when he attends regional meetings centered around a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos early next month, the source said. A neighbor to Laos, Myanmar is a member of the 10-nation bloc.

Japan is eager to give assistance to Myanmar as a way to counter China’s influence in the fast-growing and resource-rich nation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping last week held talks with Suu Kyi during which he touched on infrastructure development.

The democracy icon, part of Myanmar’s first democratically elected government in more than 50 years, holds the offices of foreign minister and state counselor. She chose China for her first overseas visit outside of Southeast Asia since the government took power in March.

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