Myanmar rulers want closer ties with neighbors

Myanmar's military rulers say they want to strengthen relations with five neighboring countries, including China.

They are defiant in the face of pressure from the US and the European Union, both of which have imposed sanctions on officials of the Southeast Asian nation who are linked to repression of pro-democracy protesters.

The military is cracking down on protesters in an increasingly harsh manner. A human rights group in the country says at least 261 people have been killed by the country's security forces.

On Monday, the US and the EU announced asset freezes for individuals, including some linked to the military.

On Tuesday, spokesperson Zaw Min Tun of the State Administration Council, which was established by the military following the coup, held a news conference.

He said the fatalities were unfortunate but claimed that protesters who repeatedly carried out destructive acts were to blame. He suggested that the military would continue to restrict Internet access and other measures designed to keep demonstrations in check.

The spokesperson said the military administration aims to strengthen relations with five neighboring countries, including China, and highlight their shared values. He stressed the leadership's determination to hold its ground in the face of pressure from the US and the EU.