India, China urged to lobby Myanmar to allow foreign aid (Lead)

May 30th, 2008 - 6:19 pm ICT by admin  

Singapore, May 30 (DPA) A prominent US senator called on India and China to “do more” to persuade Myanmar’s junta to speed up the pace of international aid entering the cyclone-devastated country Friday. The “immediate imperative must be to facilitate as much relief as possible,” Joseph Lieberman said at the 2008 Shangri-La Dialogue, a forum of Asian policymakers involved in regional security.

He also called on the military government to free pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describing the junta’s decision to extend her detention as “unacceptable.”

The cyclone that struck May 2 left an estimated 2.4 million people in need of food, shelter and medical care, according to United Nations. The Myanmar government said the cyclone killed 78,000 people and left 56,000 missing.

“There remains no more pressing test of ASEAN than its ability to guide Burma (Myanmar) back to the community of responsible nations,” Lieberman said.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been trying to coordinate the entrance of aid and foreign personnel in an agreement with Myanmar. The regime initially said the aid was wanted, but not the foreigners.

Lieberman, a strong supporter of US Senator John McCain for the US presidency, noted that Asian nations have been concerned that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may overshadow other regional concerns.

“We cannot allow it to be the case,” he said, quoting polls that he said showed the US enjoys more public support in Asia than ever before.

Lieberman, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee from Connecticut, said the US should participate more actively in multilateral organizations, including those led by ASEAN, and to complete free trade agreements with Thailand and Malaysia.

The dialogue, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, has expanded as a venue for diplomatic leaders from Europe and the US.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates was scheduled to address the participants on Saturday and expected to discuss the impact of the devastating earthquake in China and cyclone in Myanmar.

The three-day event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the institute, whose early work focused on nuclear deterrence and arms control issues during the Cold War.

Among the issues to be addressed were challenges to stability in the Asia-Pacific, the future of East Asian security and securing energy in the region.

In previous years, the event has seen proposals for greater maritime security cooperation in the Malacca Straits, new bilateral relationships, and the establishment of a regional disaster and humanitarian relief centre.

Those who attented the meet included representatives of Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, East Timor, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, NATO, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand the United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

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