UN chief visits delta region

May 22, 2008 (DVB), United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon paid a visit today to the Irrawaddy delta region that was devastated by Cyclone Nargis and is due to meet junta leader Than Shwe tomorrow.

Ban arrived in Burma this morning to reinforce the aid effort to the country and discuss with senior government officials and international aid agencies how best to expedite the assistance programme.

The secretary-general visited a camp for cyclone survivors in Dadaye township and also went to Moulmeingyun township, according to UN information officer Aye Win, who accompanied Ban on his visit.

The secretary-general will travel to Naypyidaw tomorrow to meet senior general Than Shwe, the regime's leader.

In a press conference in Thailand yesterday, Ban said his first objective was to speed up the processes to allow the free movement of international aid and relief workers.

He said he also aimed to consider what assistance will be needed in the medium to long term, including in areas such as rebuilding national infrastructure, re-establishing schools and addressing the severe damage to agriculture.

Thirdly, the secretary-general said he sought to reinforce cooperation between Burma and the international community.

"We must all do our utmost for the people of Myanmar," he told reporters.

"I say now what I have said before: issues of assistance and aid in Myanmar should not be politicised. Our focus now is on saving lives."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw and Si√¢n Thomas

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