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Myanmar defends relief effort

world Updated: Jun 01, 2008 22:31 IST
Reuters
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Myanmar’s military junta on Sunday defended its response to Cylone Nargis after stinging criticism from the US, while a UN official said food supplies had yet to reach at least 200,000 people.

US defence secretary Robert Gates, who has accused the regime of causing more deaths by stonewalling foreign aid, said on Sunday US ships cruising near Myanmar could leave in a "matter of days" if they cannot deliver relief supplies.

Myanmar deputy defence minister Aye Myint, in Singapore for a security conference also attended by Gates, insisted the government had acted swiftly and it was open to foreign aid with "no strings attached".

"Through the prompt and immediate supervision of the supervisory central body headed by the prime minister and member ministers, relief camps and hospitals were opened, debris was cleared, emergency power and water supply restored," Myint said. State media had given plenty of advance warning of the May 2 cyclone, which left 134,000 dead or missing and up to 2.4 million others destitute, Myint told the annual gathering of security and defence officials in Singapore.

The former Burma has said the rescue and relief effort is largely over and it is focused on reconstruction. The UN has said the scale of the devastation meant the relief phase could last six months.

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