McCain drops U.S. Senate plan to expand military ties with Myanmar amid Rohingya crisis


The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is nixing plans to expand U.S. military ties with Myanmar because of its persecution of minority Rohingya Muslims.

Sen. John McCain said in a statement Tuesday that he had hoped for greater U.S. engagement with Myanmar after the Southeast Asian country made its transition to civilian government last year, ending decades of military rule in the Southeast Asian nation.

But he said circumstances have changed, with 370,000 Rohingya fleeing violence and destruction in the last month in what the United Nations has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

McCain said he is now seeking to remove language from a defense authorization bill being discussed in Senate this week that would have expanded opportunities for U.S. training of Myanmar military in areas like maritime security and combating human trafficking.

Other lawmakers had opposed that as rewarding Myanmar’s military, long excluded from substantive U.S. ties because of its poor record on human rights.

McCain said the international community has called upon civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the violence and hold human rights abusers accountable, “but there has been no action to-date.”