Published: Nov 01, 2012 6:00 PM EDT
Updated: Nov 02, 2012 6:31 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - The World Bank has approved $80 million in grant aid for Myanmar's rural poor and plans to lend it $165 million more in the coming 18 months.

The Washington-based bank is re-engaging with Myanmar after a gap of two decades as its government undertakes economic and political reforms.

The bank's board of directors on Thursday approved a strategy for the next 18 months in supporting management of public finances, regulatory reform and private sector development.

Regional bank vice president Pamela Cox said $80 million will be distributed in small grants to villages.

She said the bank has $165 million in loan assistance committed for Myanmar after it clears its $900 million in arrears to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Japan is helping that process.