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'Myanmar must open up before it's too late'

As per ASEAN's secretary general, Myanmar's military junta must allow international aid into the cyclone-hit country before it's too late.

world Updated: May 08, 2008 12:05 IST

Myanmar's military junta must allow international aid into the cyclone-hit country "before it's too late," ASEAN's secretary general said in Jakarta on Thursday.

"I hope that we will have an opening before it's too late... It's very much a matter of urgency," Surin Pitsuwan said on the sidelines of a conference on technology and governance in Indonesia's capital.

Surin said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretariat was "trying to communicate (to the Myanmar regime) the sense of urgency and the flood of goodwill that is being offered."

"I have no idea what is the cause of the delay but I would assume (it is because) physical infrastructure has been destroyed and there is probably some consultation inside about what is the best way to receive this help," he said.

"I'm very concerned and I'm under tremendous pressure trying to coordinate this," he added.

The Myanmar regime has been reluctant to allow international aid workers into the country in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis which left at least 65,000 people dead or missing.

The United Nations, the United States and France have already called on the junta to open their doors to foreign aid amid fears the death toll from Saturday's devastating storm could top 100,000.

Millions of people have been left homeless and without food and water in one of the poorest countries in the world, after a vast swath of Myanmar's low-lying delta region was inundated.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.