Australia suspends defence training with Myanmar after coup

YANGON (AP) — Australia has suspended its defence cooperation with Myanmar and is redirecting humanitarian aid in the country because of last month’s military takeover of the government and the ongoing detention of an Australian citizen.

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

Australia announced late Sunday that it had suspended a defence training programme with Myanmar worth about AUD1.5 million (USD1.2 million) over five years. The programme had been restricted to non-combat areas such as English-language training.

Australian humanitarian aid will be directed away from 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.