Tue, May 20, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Myanmar proposes meet to pledge aid

YANGON CONFERENCEASEAN foreign ministers met in Singapore yesterday as international pressure mounts on the Myanmar government to allow foreign aid to enter


A young victim of Cyclone Nargis stands in line yesterday to receive donated goods from a local donor at a monastery outside the capital of Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s military regime, which has barred almost all foreigners from its cyclone disaster zone, allowed the UN’s humanitarian chief into the Irrawaddy delta for a brief tour yesterday, a UN official said.


Myanmar wants to host an aid-pledging conference in Yangon to pool foreign assistance to survivors of this month’s devastating cyclone, Thailand’s foreign minister said in Singapore yesterday.

Noppadon Pattama said his Myanmar counterpart, Nyan Win, was expected to inform fellow foreign ministers of ASEAN of the proposal at a special meeting in Singapore later yesterday.

He also said ASEAN was planning to send its secretary-general, Surin Pitsuwan, to Myanmar for a first-hand look at the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the country more than two weeks ago.

“We will mandate the ASEAN secretary-general to go there to assess the situation in Myanmar and we will listen to the Myanmar foreign minister regarding the pledging conference which he would like to host on the 22nd or 23rd of May in Yangon,” Noppadon said ahead of the Singapore meeting.

“Myanmar would like to host that meeting although the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon would like to host the ASEAN-UN pledging conference in Thailand. But we have to listen to Myanmar’s opinion first,” he said.

The suggestion to host an aid-pledging session in Myanmar’s main city comes amid mounting pressure for the military regime to drop its resistance to large-scale foreign involvement in post-cyclone relief and reconstruction.

The UN’s top disaster official, John Holmes, arrived in Myanmar on Sunday carrying a letter to the head of the junta, Than Shwe, from Ban, who plans to soon visit Myanmar to discuss the delivery of urgently needed aid.

The international community has strongly criticized Myanmar’s rulers over their handling of the tragedy, which has left nearly 134,000 people dead or missing since tearing into the Irrawaddy delta on May 2.

The highly secretive government is now based in the remote purpose-built town of Naypyidaw but Yangon remains the commercial and diplomatic center.

Thailand’s Noppadon said he was optimistic about yesterday’s special meeting convened by Singapore, which currently holds the ASEAN chair.

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