VARIOUS: Bush urges Myanmar to accept US disaster teams as international commmunity pledges aid
- Title: VARIOUS: Bush urges Myanmar to accept US disaster teams as international commmunity pledges aid
- Date: 7th May 2008
- Summary: (BN10) PARIS, FRANCE (MAY 6, 2008) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTRY FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER BERNARD KOUCHNER ARRIVING AT NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER BERNARD KOUCHNER, SAYING: "Burma has apparently accepted international aid as long as they distribute if themselves. But we are not confident about the way they would distribute it and the international community isn't trusting this. So, they have not accepted direct aid, nor have they accepted the personnel we offered." VARIOUS KOUCHNER SPEAKING AND JOURNALISTS LISTENING AT NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVA8EIBAQ1PJNWQ0RBJUP3NA4L49
- Duration: 00:00:53
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: International Relations,Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: U.S. President George W. Bush made a rare personal appeal to Myanmar's junta on Tuesday (May 6) to accept U.S. disaster teams that have been blocked and said Washington was ready to help more after a devastating cyclone.
Addressing a government he has long tried to isolate, Bush said: "Our message is to the military rulers. Let the United States come and help you, help the people."
He offered emergency assistance from the U.S. Navy, which the White House said had two ships within two days' sailing time of the poor Southeast Asian country. But he risked further antagonizing the junta by coupling his humanitarian aid offer with a signing ceremony for legislation awarding its chief political opponent, detained democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the Congressional Gold Medal, America's top civilian honour.
International aid pledges worth 10 million U.S. dollars have so far been pledged.
The European Commission will provide a two million euro aid package in response to the disaster.
"The most urgent need appears to be for shelter and clean water and these areas will be of course priorities for this package," said Commission spokesman for the Humanitarian Aid office Amadeu Altafaj, adding that the initial funding would concentrate of providing clean water and that the organisation expected to hand out more aid later.
Myanmar's military rulers are allowing in food and other emergency supplies but have not yet approved visas for some aid workers seeking to assess the damage from a massive cyclone, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed concerns that the Myanmar authorities wanted to deliver the aid itself.
"Burma has apparently accepted international aid but as long as they distribute themselves. But we are not confident in the way they would distribute it and the international community does not trust this. So they have not accepted direct aid, nor have they accepted the personnel we offered," he said.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain would work with the whole international community "to make sure that the food aid and the other support that is necessary is available to the people of Burma."
China will provide relief aid worth one million U.S. dollars to cyclone-hit Myanmar as a "first batch of aid", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference in Beijing.
Chinese aid will be divided into 500,000 U.S. dollars worth in cash and materials including tents, blankets and biscuits worth a further 500,000 U.S dollars, the commerce ministry said.
United Nations aid officials estimate that hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless by the 190 km (120 miles) per hour winds and storm surge.
"This is a critical moment for the affected population and we hope that assessment in the next few days will be carried out and that will help alleviate suffering and that will help save a lot of lives," said Rashid Khalikov, United Nations Director of the Office for the Coordination Of Humanitarian Affairs, who also urged the junta to ease regulations on visas.
Japan says it will provide 28 million yen (267,570 U.S. dollars) worth of emergency aid in the form of tents, power generators and other supplies, the Foreign Ministry said.
The supplies were being sent through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Singapore office straight to Yangon.
Thailand responded to the disaster, sending a C-130 transport plane loaded with 9 tonnes of food and medicine to Yangon after the airport reopened on Monday.
Myanmar's government said 5 billion kyats (4.5 million U.S. dollars) had been set aside in disaster aid.
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