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Australia welcomes ASEAN's Burma access -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Australian Government has welcomed the decision by Burma's military regime to
finally allow a coordinated foreign relief effort, nearly three weeks after Burma was hit by
cyclone Nargis.

The cyclone has killed an estimated 78,000 people in Burma's southern delta region with around
56,000 still missing.

Australia's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, says the approach that ASEAN has taken is the best
one, and that military intervention isn't necessary.

But there's no guarantee that the extra aid will get through soon enough to those who need it.

Simon Lauder has our report.

(Sound of children calling out)

SIMON LAUDER: Children chase after a truck, which is delivering private food donations near the
Burmese capital, Rangoon. The Norway based group, The Democratic Voice of Burma, says its truck
wasn't able to stop and deliver the aid properly, because private donations are illegal in Burma.

The military junta in Burma has refused to admit most international relief workers since cyclone
Nargis hit 18 days ago.

But some Burmese people are taking their pleas for help directly to the international community.

With French actress, Jane Birkin, at his side Burmese monk U Uttara staged a protest among the
glitz and glamour of the Cannes Film Festival.

U UTTARA: This is a humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian. We need help.

JANE BIRKIN: Because it is the one opportunity in Cannes is to be able to talk about it again
because we are talking 100,000 deaths. 200,000, 300,000 - we don't know if things can't get in

SIMON LAUDER: It's a symbol of the mounting pressure on Burma's military regime to open the door to
the offers of help from around the world.

The Association of South East Asian Nations has been criticised for not doing enough to convince
the Burmese Generals to allow aid in.

But Burma's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win denies the junta has spurned international help.

At a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Singapore last night, he told reporters that Burma had
accepted aid from Thailand and India.

U NYAN WIN: I offer all the international assistance we are only welcome.

SIMON LAUDER: And the junta finally agreed to a major aid effort, to be lea by ASEAN.

British government minister, Mark Malloch Brown, has just returned from Rangoon.

MARK MALLOCH BROWN: It's a big foot in the door. We were at a situation of stand-off where while
volume of aid was increasing, the ability to get it into the Irrawaddy Delta area was very
restricted and this offers a formula which we think the Burmese can work with. That they will have
confidence in an ASEAN led process which they would not have in a kind of western driven process.

SIMON LAUDER: It's already clear, though, that the aid teams won't have free access. The junta
wants the aid channelled through regional personnel and organisations, not western agencies.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, has welcomed the agreement that ASEAN has
negotiated. Mr Smith has also responded to a suggestion from the former Foreign Minister Alexander
Downer who says that military force could be used in Burma.

STEPHEN SMITH: So far as military intervention is concerned, I think to be fair to Mr Downer, if
you actually read the transcript from Lateline last night, he wasn't actually suggesting it. He was
more indicating that a conversation of the security council ought to be conducted.

I think the way forward is the way that we have seen from ASEAN and the United Nations.

From the very first moment, the Australian Government position was that we were dealing here with a
humanitarian crisis. The key point was to get aid and assistance in. Not to reflect on the current

To put those issues to one side and that has been the attitude of the Australian Government from
day one.

ELEANOR HALL: That Australia's Foreign Affairs minister, Stephen Smith, ending that report from
Simon Lauder.