Abe offers $1bn in rural aid to Suu Kyi

Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi looks on during the opening session of the Asean and European Union summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay, Manila, on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)

TOKYO: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday pledge up to ¥117 billion ($1.03 billion) of development aid to Myanmar in a meeting in Manila with government leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The package of low-interest loans will be used to fund projects including infrastructure and small-company financing meant to help improve rural incomes, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release.

The aid pledge comes as Myanmar comes under intense criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations and other countries for a counter-insurgency operation that has sparked an exodus of more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh since August.

Mr Abe and Ms Suu Kyi are in the Philippines for an Association of South East Asian Nations conference including other regional leaders.

While there, Ms Suu Kyi, whose administration has no control over the security forces under a constitution drafted during military rule, discussed the Rohingya crisis with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

China and the US also compete for influence in Myanmar.

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