Clinton says Myanmar election deeply 'flawed'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hit out Sunday at Myanmar's military rulers, calling their weekend elections deeply flawed and a sign of "heartbreaking" repressive conditions in the country.

In a speech to Australian university students, Clinton said she hoped the election — the first in 20 years — could produce a few new leaders who might change the country's direction. But stressed the United States would continue to support an international inquiry into past human rights abuses in the nation that is also known as Burma.

Sunday's elections "once again expose the abuses of the military junta," she told an audience at the University of Melbourne. "It's heartbreaking because the people of Burma deserve so much better."

The vote is being held amid both a barrage of criticism that the balloting is rigged in favor of the military and hope that some change toward democratic reform might nonetheless follow. Clinton shared that sentiment.

"We hope that perhaps out of these elections some leaders will emerge who know that Burma has to take a different track and cannot continue to do the same thing and realize the potential of their people," she said.

Clinton is in Australia on the last foreign stop of a seven-nation Asia-Pacific tour. On Monday, she and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will meet their Australian counterparts to discuss expanding defense and security cooperation.