Australia ends defense cooperation with Myanmar over coup | World | Instant News


By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia has suspended its defense cooperation with Myanmar and diverted humanitarian aid due to the government’s takeover by the military and the ongoing detention of an Australian citizen.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Monday that Australian diplomats and relatives have only been able to contact economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice by phone since he was detained in early February. He described the access as “very limited consular support”.

“We believe Professor Turnell has been arbitrarily detained along with senior members of the Myanmar government including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, including the President,” Win Myint, Payne told reporters.

“We do not accept the conditions of his detention and the reasons for his detention. We are trying to return to democracy. We are committed to an end to any armed violence against unarmed civilians who protest peacefully. And in everything we do, we seek Professor Turnell’s release, “he added.

Australia late Sunday announced it was suspending a defense training program with Myanmar worth an estimated 1.5 million Australian dollars ($ 1.2 million) for five years. The program has been limited to non-combat areas such as English language training.

Australian humanitarian aid will be directed away from the Myanmar government and government-related entities. Instead, it will focus on the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor in Myanmar including the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, Payne said.

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