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Briefly: Asia

- - Thursday, May 19, 2011

CHINA

Admiral: U.S. open to military studying in China

SINGAPORE — The U.S. military would consider sending officers and cadets to China on study exchange programs if relations between the two countries improve, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Thursday.

Washington is seeking to improve its relationship with the Chinese military, and an officer exchange program would provide a better understanding of Chinese culture, goals and thoughts, Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh said.

"There's a strong effort here to improve the relationship," Adm. Walsh told the Associated Press on the sidelines of a global naval conference in Singapore.

President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have been in talks to help restore military-to-military relations.

Early last year, China angrily cut off most of those contacts after the United States announced a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, the self-governing island that China considers a renegade province.

INDIA

Sonia Gandhi vows land reforms

NEW DELHI — Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress party, on Thursday promised a change of law to reform land-acquisition laws after deadly clashes near the capital.

"We will soon bring a bill in parliament on land acquisition," Mrs. Gandhi told a Congress rally in the city of Varanasi in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The National Congress government is planning to replace the 1894 Land Acquisition Act, introduced during British colonial rule, with new legislation aimed at cutting down conflicts over the valuation of land and seeking to minimize social disruption caused by projects.

This month, two policemen and two farmers died in clashes in Uttar Pradesh state close to the outskirts of New Delhi during protests demanding greater compensation for land.

MYANMAR

U.S. envoy meets democracy activist Suu Kyi

YANGON — A senior U.S. diplomat met Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi Thursday for talks about the country's new political landscape following the recent dissolution of the junta.

Joseph Y. Yun, deputy U.S. assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific affairs, described the meeting as "very good" but did not reveal details of his discussion with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The Obama administration in 2009 launched a drive to engage with Myanmar's junta, which in March made way for a nominally civilian but army-backed government after the first election in 20 years.

Washington has voiced disappointment with the results of the dialogue and refused to ease sanctions after the November election, which was marred by complaints of cheating and won by the military's political proxies.

On Wednesday, Mr. Yun held talks with Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in the capital, Naypyidaw. It was highest-level meeting between the two nations since the handover of power to the new government.

From wire dispatches and staff reports