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World Bank Says No Aid to Burma



The World Bank says it will not provide aid or loans to Burma in the wake of a deadly cyclone.

The bank said Tuesday that new loans are impossible because the military government has made no payments on outstanding debts since 1998, and has failed to enact economic and other reforms.

Next week the United Nations and ASEAN will host a joint conference in Rangoon to seek international support and financial aid for those affected by Cyclone Nargis.

The meeting also will focus on longer-term recovery efforts. Burmese officials say losses from the storm could be up to $10 billion.

Burmese officials say the death toll from Nargis is nearly 78,000, and that nearly 56,000 more people are missing.

Burma began a three-day mourning period today. Flags are to be at half-staff for the mourning period, which was announced by state media Monday.

Also Monday, Burma agreed to let its Southeast Asian neighbors oversee an international effort to bring foreign medical teams and aid to areas hard-hit by the storm. That breakthrough came during an emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore.

Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo said that while Burma has agreed to accept nearly 300 medical personnel from ASEAN countries, it does not mean there will be uncontrolled access.

Burma has been resisting requests to send in foreign aid workers, and international aid officials warn more relief is needed to prevent starvation and disease.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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