U.S. urges Russia and Myanmar to reconsider fighter jet deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States called on Russia and Myanmar on Thursday to reconsider a reported agreement for the supply of Russian fighter planes to the Southeast Asian country.

Russian media quoted the Defense Ministry in Moscow as saying this week that Russia would sell six SU-30 planes to Myanmar. The RIA news agency said Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, was interested in buying other Russian military hardware for its land and naval forces.

“We’ve seen some new troubling media reports that Russia intends to sell SU-30 fighter jets to the Burmese armed forces,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing.

“The reports, if confirmed, serve as another reminder of Russia’s continued efforts to arm militaries that flagrantly violate human rights,” she said.

Nauert referred to the Myanmar military’s treatment of minority Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine State, which had prompted the flight of 680,000 to Bangladesh.

“While the Russian Federation says it favors constructive dialogue to resolve the crisis in Burma, the reports of plans to sell advanced military technology, if true, show otherwise.

“We urge the governments of both Russia and Burma to reconsider a further buildup in arms and fully commit their efforts to finding a peaceful and stable solution to that crisis,” she said.

The Myanmar military cracked down last year in the northern part of Rakhine State in response to militant attacks on security forces.

The United States previously urged countries to suspend arms sales to Myanmar in response to the crackdown.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney