Thai PM to visit Myanmar on May 14

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{image-thai 987pm_13052008.jpg}Bangkok, May 13: Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will travel to Yangon tomorrow to persuade Myanmar's military rulers to allow foreign aid workers into the country. Mr Samak will carry UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's appeal to the Myanmar junta to lift all restrictions on international aid for victims of the May 3 Cyclone Nargis that devastated large parts of the Southeast Asian nation, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said today.

However, Bangkok has still not been informed if Myanmar's Prime Minister General Thein Sein will meet Mr Samak as the former is busy visiting the disaster areas, Mr Noppadon added. The Thai foreign minister said the Thai prime minister had been requested by the UN Secretary-General to urge Myanmar to accept humanitarian assistance from Western nations and issue visas to foreign aid workers. Mr Noppadon said he was contacted on telephone by foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and the European Union seeking Bangkok's mediation with Myanmar's rulers to facilitate the international aid community's access to the cyclone-affected areas in Myanmar. The Thai foreign minister suggested that nations wanting to assist the cyclone victims in Myanmar should use a sympathetic and friendly approach to encourage the Myanmar government to be more open to international assistance.

According to UN estimates, up to 100,000 people have been killed by Asia's worst natural disaster since the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Meanwhile, Myanmar's military rulers expressed gratitude for the first shipment of US aid sent by a US military aircraft yesterday.

''The donation will enhance friendship between the governments, armed forces and the peoples of the two countries,'' a top Myanmar Navy official was quoted as saying in state-controlled media in the country.

Two more US military aircraft were scheduled to land in Myanmar today with material relief.


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