Tuesday, July 29, 2008

U.S. Calls for End of Myanmar For-Ex Rules After UN Admits Losses, UK Joins, France Silent

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 -- The United States is supporting a call that the Myanmar government eliminate currency "exchange rules and regulations" by which of Cyclone Nargis aid "twenty to twenty five percent was diverted," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told Inner City Press on Tuesday. "I looked into a little of what you said," Ambassador Khalilad began, referring to Inner City Press' reporting since June 26 and questions to him last week and Monday about UN aid losses to government-required currency exchange in Myanmar.

"It's the result of rules and regulations of the Myanmar government," he said, "that a significant portion, 20 to 25%, was diverted... We are looking further into the Myanmar government's diversion of aid." He did not say if the U.S. is pushing for a return of the lost $10 million, but he said clearly that the U.S. supports the call, in which he included the UN, that Myanmar's currency exchange rules and regulations that led to the loss be "eliminated."

Inner City Press also asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Permanent Representative Karen Pierce about the 20 to 25% loss of aid funds in Myanmar, since as she said the UK has sent $92 million there. "It is obviously very concerning," she said. "We're supporting the UN efforts to get this resolved, rather than working through it bilaterally ourselves. We're in close touch with John Holmes' people about this."

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