ASEAN chairman offers to host meeting on helping Myanmar
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered to host a meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers Friday to discuss how the grouping can help Myanmar in its relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of last weekend's devastating cyclone, the Foreign Ministry said.
The military regime has refused to let in foreign aid workers, but is willing to accept supplies from the UN and some other countries.
Singapore holds the ASEAN chairmanship. A senior officials meeting in Singapore discussed "how ASEAN could respond in support of Myanmar," one of the 10 members, a ministry statement said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo had earlier Friday written to Myanmar's foreign minister "to convey an offer by Lee for Singapore to host a meeting of the ASEAN foreign ministers to discuss how ASEAN can help Myanmar in its relief and recovery efforts," the statement noted.
The ministers are working out details, it said.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin called Friday for UN action to force Myanmar's rulers to ease the restrictions on aid workers.
She appealed to ASEAN to use its influence on Myanmar.
The cyclone left Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, without electricity and water after it struck a week ago. The state media said 22,997 people died but other estimates put the figure as high as 100,000.
ASEAN includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, dpa reported.