Japan plans to provide 10 billion yen (3 billion baht) chiefly in grants over the next five years to Myanmar to bolster the living standards of ethnic minorities that have suffered during years of internal conflicts in the country, Japanese government sources said Saturday.

Tokyo intends to provide the aid to help accelerate ongoing peace talks between the government of President Thein Sein and ethnic rebels, the sources said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to provide more than 150 billion yen in loans and grants to Myanmar in order to support the development of the resource-rich country and strengthen economic ties between the countries.

Autonomy-seeking rebels in Myanmar have battled the government’s military for years, leading many inhabitants to flee from conflict-marred underdeveloped areas, mostly along the borders with China and Thailand.

The Thein Sein regime has pledged to engineer a national reconciliation and is seeking to conclude ceasefires with each of the rebel groups in a bid to secure a comprehensive nationwide truce.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the nation’s largest opposition National League for Democracy, has been calling on the Thein Sein regime and the rebels to reconcile differences and establish a truce.

Japan aims to help speed up the reconciliation process with the aid for ethnic groups, which is also designed to jack up the overall living standards of the people in Myanmar, according to the sources.

The Japanese government plans to team up with non-governmental organisations for the envisioned assistance, which will be provided in the form of grants-in-aid to supply food and medicine, improve infrastructure and help the displaced resettle in areas from which they fled.

Details of these aid projects will be hammered out after obtaining consent from both the Myanmar government and the minority groups, they said.

Link: http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/387969/?