Page last updated at 03:33 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 04:33 UK

Minister sets out for Burma talks

Douglas Alexander
Douglas Alexander will visit Thailand and Burma

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander is travelling to Burma for talks on how to get help to victims of Cyclone Nargis.

He will meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Thailand ahead of Sunday's international conference in Rangoon.

International relief agencies have given a cautious welcome to the Burmese military government's announcement that all foreign aid workers will be let in.

About 78,000 people died and 56,000 are missing after the 2 May cyclone.

Relief work

Burma's regime has been condemned for preventing experts from getting into the country.

However, Mr Ban said Burma had agreed to let all foreign aid workers into the country for relief work in cyclone-hit areas, following talks with Burmese leader Gen Than Shwe.

Burma said it would allow the delivery of aid "via civilian ships and small boats".

Burma's military leaders had previously refused to allow a full-scale relief effort by foreign aid workers.

They had said that the relief phase of the aid operation was over and that the government was now focusing on reconstruction.

Despite the devastation the Burmese authorities are pressing ahead with the next stage of a referendum on a new constitution.

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