Tue 1 Jul 2008
Filed under: International,News
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged on Tuesday to press Myanmar to bring “genuine freedom” to its people after he struck a deal to bring in international aid after a devastating cyclone.
Ban in May became the first secretary general in 44 years to visit Myanmar where he persuaded junta leader Than Shwe to accept foreign disaster experts.
The junta, suspicious of the outside world, had waited weeks before letting in significant international help to cope with the disaster, which left more than 138,000 people dead or missing.
“If and when it is necessary, I am going to broaden and deepen this process in my dialogue with the Myanmar authorities,” Ban told a news conference on a visit to Tokyo.
“You have my firm commitment and assurances that I will work very hard to help the Myanmar people to enjoy genuine freedom and democracy,” he said.
A UN envoy, former Nigerian foreign minister Ibrahim Gambari, has made little visible progress on his missions to Myanmar since the junta clamped down on mass protests in September last year.
The junta in May extended the house arrest of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the last 18 years confined to her home.
Ban said that despite the delay in accepting international aid teams, the junta has largely lived up to its word in allowing access.
“Things seem to be moving in the right direction,” Ban said.
“As far as I know as of today, international workers and UN staff have been able to carry out their humanitarian assistance as has been agreed,” he said.