EU aid chief gets last-minute visa for Myanmar mission
The European Union's top aid official, European Commissioner Louis Michel, on Tuesday was granted a visa to travel to Myanmar to hold talks with the authorities, just minutes before he boarded a flight for the East, dpa reported.
"I can confirm that Commissioner Michel and, of course, the team with him have visas and are en route now," Michel's spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
The commissioner is due to fly via Frankfurt and Bangkok to Yangon, where he hopes to persuade Myanmar's military regime to ease the access for foreign aid workers to the country, which was ravaged by Cyclone Nargis ten days ago.
He announced the mission on Monday, but only received confirmation that his visa had been cleared minutes before leaving for the airport from an emergency meeting of EU aid ministers in Brussels.
International aid bodies and diplomats have criticized the Myanmar regime's refusal to let foreign aid workers enter the country, saying that the move endangers the lives of thousands of Myanmar citizens.
At Tuesday's emergency EU meeting, which Michel summoned on Monday, the gathered ministers urged the Myanmar junta to allow aid workers into the country.
They also called on the UN, India, China and ASEAN to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on the Myanmar regime. However, they stopped short of calling for aid to be imposed, as some EU members had suggested.