Myanmar okays foreign relief on India’s plea
New Delhi, May 12
The external affairs minister spoke to the Myanmar foreign minister and urged him to accept international supplies to supplement their efforts for the relief of thousands of victims of cyclone Nargis which struck the Southeast Asian nation on May 2-3.
The telephone conversation came three days after US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice spoke with Mukherjee on May 9 and discussed the situation in Myanmar following the devastating cyclone.
The secretary of state had rung up Mukherjee as part of a series of calls to foreign leaders to urge them to use their influence with the military junta in Myanmar to allow humanitarian supplies to the cyclone-affected people.
The Myanmar government has so far disallowed any foreign nationals to enter the country for distribution of relief supplies coming from all over the world although they have welcomed the relief material.
US planes, carrying supplies, are in neighbouring Thailand waiting for permission for entry. However, the military junta is not allowing any foreign nationals.
The United Nations also suspended relief operations to Myanmar after the military government denied entry of foreign personnel to help in the ongoing relief operations.
The Myanmar foreign minister, while expressing gratitude for the ''prompt and generous'' assistance of the Government of India, conveyed his government's readiness to accept international relief and medical supplies, external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said here.
Mukherjee reiterated India’s readiness to assist Myanmar in whatever way it could in both the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
The external affairs minister expressed sorrow at the loss of lives and widespread damage to property and underlined the empathy and solidarity of the government and people of India with the government and people of Myanmar.
India's assistance to Myanmar following the cyclone which reportedly killed 100,000 people, has been spontaneous and immediate keeping in mind the close and friendly neighbourly relations between the two countries.
Two Indian Navy ships, INS Rana and INS Kirpan, carrying immediate relief and medical supplies, and five Indian aircraft carrying tents, medicine, roofing material and other relief items have reached Myanmar.
''This included an IL-76 aircraft which landed in Yangon today carrying ready-to-eat meals,'' Sarna added. — UNI