Saturday, June 28, 2008

G8 pushes Myanmar to accept foreign cyclone aid

KYOTO, Japan (Reuters) - The Group of Eight wealthy nations put pressure on Myanmar to let in more foreign relief workers after a devastating cyclone last month, after accusations it had obstructed aid, a Japanese official said on Thursday.

The G8 foreign ministers, meeting in Kyoto, agreed to maintain support for reconstruction in Myanmar after the cyclone left more than 138,000 dead or missing, the official said.
Foreign leaders have accused Myanmar's military rulers of worsening the storm death toll by stalling on foreign aid, and Italy said it had pushed at the talks for more involvement by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"We proposed a formal appeal by the G8 to the U.N. asking that Ban Ki-moon insist on transparency regarding the sums donated by the international community," Frattini told reporters after talks with his fellow ministers.

"We also hope that China can play a stronger role," he said, referring to a country that has been a steady friend of Myanmar's junta.

Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said there was agreement that the G8 would press Myanmar to accept more relief workers from the outside world.

Many of the G8 ministers also expressed concern about how to achieve a transition to civilian rule in Myanmar, he added.

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's confinement to her home in Yangon was extended in May despite international pleas to Myanmar's military rulers to free her. Pro-junta thugs last week broke up a rally marking Suu Kyui's birthday.

The G8 ministers agreed that any signs of progress towards civilian government should be encouraged, Kodama said.
"In order to improve the current situation, it is also important for us the G8 to apply not only pressure but if Myanmar side shows any forward looking movement it is also important to provide an incentive," he said.