WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican Senate leader says further normalization of relations between the U.S. and Myanmar will be "much more difficult" if elections this fall don't reflect the people's will.
Sen. Mitch McConnell is a leading congressional voice on the country also known as Burma. He was a longtime champion of sanctions to oppose military rule. But McConnell has supported the easing of restrictions and U.S. engagement to reward the Southeast Asian nation's political reforms in recent years.
The senator says flawed elections would hinder enhanced economic ties, the prospect of duty-free benefits for Myanmar and military-to-military relations, which are still minimal and opposed by some U.S. lawmakers.
He also urges protection for long-suffering Rohingya Muslims who have been fleeing the country.
McConnell spoke Thursday on the Senate floor.