May 13, 2008 / 5:49 PM / 11 years ago

U.S. offers to distribute aid rejected by Myanmar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Myanmar has rejected U.S. offers to deliver supplies by helicopter or ship directly to Myanmar’s cyclone survivors but negotiations are still going on, U.S. defense officials said on Tuesday.

The Pentagon has sent three aircraft to Myanmar over the past two days with water, blankets, mosquito netting and plastic sheeting. But Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has not authorized any more deliveries.

It has rejected U.S. offers to use American helicopters and ships to deliver fresh water and other aid directly to survivors 11 days after the cyclone left up to 100,000 dead or missing, according to U.S. defense officials.

Myanmar has also not granted access to a U.S. warship off the coast carrying more than 14,000 five-gallon containers of fresh water.

“At this time we have not received any further clearance to fly additional relief flights or assistance to Burma,” said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

“We continue to encourage the military leadership of Burma to accept more assistance and to allow more flights, but at this time there are no more scheduled,” he said.

Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, flew into Myanmar on Monday to prod the country’s generals to allow international aid agencies access to survivors, who now face the threat of disease.

But his visit yielded no change in Myanmar’s refusal to allow for a massive international aid mission, according to U.S. defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they said negotiations continue.

While France, Britain and Germany called for the world to deliver aid without Myanmar’s agreement, U.S. officials would not directly discuss any forced intervention.

“We’re working very hard with the international community,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters.

“We have our own contacts with Burma and we’re calling upon them to allow the international community to help the people of Burma,” she said.

Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by David Wiessler

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