Bush proposes to call Chinese leader over Burma's stance on Aid

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Washington, May 10 (UNI) President Bush plans to call Chinese President Hu Jintao in coming days to seek his help pressing the Burmese government to accept more disaster assistance, a leading daily quoted US officials as saying.

The US took this decision when the lower-level diplomatic push this week yielded Burmese permission for one US relief plane, which was scheduled to land on Monday, the Washington Post reported.

The daily said, ''If the Burmese government does not relent, US officials are discussing other options, including bypassing the government and sending helicopters directly to the affected Irrawaddy Delta''.

''Thousands of bodies have been reported floating in the floodwaters and more than one million people were estimated to have lost their homes in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Nargis,'' the newspaper added.

It said officials have rejected as ineffective other actions by the military, such as airdrops, and for now they were sticking to diplomacy.

Helicopter relief without government permission ''is one of many ideas,'' said Maj Kerrie Hurd, spokeswoman for the US Pacific Command in Hawaii yesterday. ''That is not a plan we are pursuing now,'' she added.

Ms Hurd and other officials said Burmese permission to allow a single planeload of supplies, while inadequate, would keep the focus on a diplomatic solution for now.

''It is a good sign that we don't have to take any other course of action,'' she added.

It said the diplomatic pressure has been kept below the presidential level.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke on Thursday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and yesterday with Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, urging both governments to use their influence to persuade the Burmese leadership to open its country to relief specialists.

In Thailand, a neighbour with close ties to the Burmese government, the same message has been delivered by US Ambassador Eric John.

UNI XC RJ HT1730

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