Sunday, 4 October 2009

Okada vows support for Mekong


Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Saturday that Tokyo is preparing to boost economic assistance to countries in the Mekong region.

"We would like to make greater contributions than ever to the Mekong region," Okada said during a meeting with his counterparts from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

He also pledged that the new administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan will actively engage in diplomacy with Asian countries by promoting its "long-term vision" to create an "East Asian community."

The Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting being held in Siem Reap, northwestern Cambodia, is also aimed at laying the groundwork for a summit meeting between the leaders of Japan and the five Mekong region countries scheduled for early November in Tokyo.

Hun Sen offers greetings to Mekong, Japan FMs


October 04, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has offered greetings to foreign ministers from five Mekong countries and Japan on the sideline of the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministerial Meeting, spokesman to the prime minister said Saturday.

Srey Thamarong said Hun Sen had offered his greetings to the foreign ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan just before the plenary session of the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministerial Meeting that was about to start in Siem Reap province, northern Cambodia.

He said Hun Sen has attached significance of cooperation and solidarity among the five Mekong countries as well as Japan.

The second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministerial Meeting is being taken place in Siem Reap and will be ended late Saturday.

Hun Sen arrived in Siem Reap Friday morning and returned to Phnom Penh Saturday morning.

Source:Xinhua

ASEAN emergency fund for disasters

INQUIRER.net
10/04/2009

(Post by CAAI News Media)

MANILA, Philippines—The ASEAN Secretariat has set up an emergency humanitarian relief fund following Tropical Storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) that have hit Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Viet Nam, and the earthquakes in Indonesia, the ASEAN Secretariat said.

“The fund will be used to purchase relief items based on the needs of the affected populations,” the statement from the secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said.

Friends and partners of ASEAN are welcome to make contributions to the fund with the following information:

Name of Account: ASEAN Cooperation Fund for Emergency Relief
USD Account No.: 001-382019-120
Name of Bank: HSBC
Swift Code: HSBCIDJA
Address of Bank: World Trade Center, 3rd Floor, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav 29-31, Jakarta 12920, Indonesia

ASEAN is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Latest typhoon kills 16 in northern Philippines


Residents go on their daily business amidst flooding as Santa Cruz township remains flooded for more than a week Sunday Oct. 4, 2009 in Laguna Lake south of Manila, Philippines. Tropical storm Ketsana brought the worst flooding in metropolitan Manila and neighboring provinces in more than 40 years. Landslide buried two families in the Philippines as they sheltered from Asia's latest deadly typhoon which left more than a dozen flooded villages cut off Sunday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)


Residents go on their daily business amidst flooding as Santa Cruz township remains flooded for more than a week Sunday Oct. 4, 2009 in Laguna province south of Manila, Philippines. Tropical storm Ketsana brought the worst flooding in metropolitan Manila and neighboring provinces in more than 40 years. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)


Workers carry sacks of rice for stocking to dry warehouse as residents go on their daily business amidst flooding at Santa Cruz township, Laguna province south of Manila, Philippines for more than a week Sunday Oct. 4, 2009. Tropical storm Ketsana brought the worst flooding in metropolitan Manila and neighboring provinces in more than 40 years. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)


A young boy searches through flood debris for recyclables from Typhoon Ketsana in Marikina town, east of Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009. Manila escaped the worst of Typhoon Parma that made landfall on Saturday. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana killed at least 288 people and damaged the homes of 3 million. Ketsana went on to kill 99 in Vietnam, 14 in Cambodia and 16 in Laos. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)


A man searches for recyclables through debris from Typhoon Ketsana in Marikina town, east of Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009. Manila escaped the worst of Typhoon Parma that made landfall on Saturday. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana killed at least 288 people and damaged the homes of 3 million. Ketsana went on to kill 99 in Vietnam, 14 in Cambodia and 16 in Laos. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

By JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press Writer
(Post by CAAI News Media)

 MANILA, Philippines – Landslides buried two families in the Philippines as they sheltered in their homes from Asia's latest deadly typhoon, which killed at least 16 people and left more than a dozen villages flooded Sunday.

Typhoon Parma cut a destructive path across the northern Philippines but spared the capital, Manila. By Sunday afternoon, it was headed toward Taiwan, where troops were evacuating villages in its path.

Philippine Police Senior Superintendent Loreto Espineli said a family of five, including a 1-year-old boy, died when their home in Benguet province was buried as Parma hit Saturday. Seven people, including another family of five, were buried in a nearby village, he said.

Officials had earlier listed four people as being killed in the typhoon in the Philippines.

Parma hit just eight days after an earlier storm left Manila awash in the worst flooding in four decades, killing almost 300 people. Saturday's storm dropped more rain on the capital that slowed the cleanup and made conditions more miserable.

Parma was churning over the South China Sea on Sunday just off the Philippines' coast and moving very slowly, Nilo Frisco, administrator of the Philippines' weather agency, said Sunday afternoon.

Still, the storm's fringes had already begun pummeling eastern and southern Taiwan with heavy rain.

Troops in southern Taiwan helped evacuate villages that could be hit next. Roads were clogged with military trucks and cars taking villagers away from their flood- and mudslide-prone mountain homes.

Television stations showed soldiers making sand bags, using mud that piled up at riverbeds during a deadly typhoon last month. The military said armored personnel carriers were made ready for rescuing villagers in the event of massive flooding.

The Central Weather Bureau said Parma would likely miss the island but heavy rains could still cause major problems.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos fled to higher ground as Parma bore down on the main island of Luzon Saturday, packing winds of 108 mph (175 kph) and driving rain. Towns in half a dozen provinces were battered, landslides cut bridges and downpours swelled rivers, officials said.

About 14 farming villages at the mouth of the Cagayan River were flooded when it overflowed, forcing some residents to clamber onto their roofs, Mayor Ismael Tumaru of nearby Aparri town told The Associated Press by mobile phone.

Philippine navy, coast guard and police rescuers plucked many villagers to safety, he said. Others were huddled in buildings on higher ground, stranded by floodwaters but safe for the moment, he said.

"We're like at sea," Tumaru said as he inspected an inundated village by boat. "This used to be a rice field with roads and power posts. Now, it's just water everywhere."

Power, phone lines and internet links were down across the north, making it difficult to get reports about the extent of damage, said Armand Araneta, an official for several northern provinces.

"We really got the brunt of the wind," he said by phone from Tuguegarao city, capital of Cagayan province. "Many trees fell here. The winds knocked down cables, telephone lines — even our windows got shattered by the strong winds."

Manila escaped the worst of the storm. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana killed at least 288 people and damaged the homes of 3 million in the Philippines, before striking three other Southeast Asian nations. Vietnam on Sunday raised its death toll from Ketsana to 162 from 99, and Cambodia did likewise, to 18 from 16. Laos reported 16 deaths.

Parma came during a week of destruction in the Asia-Pacific region: an earthquake Wednesday in Indonesia, a tsunami Tuesday in the Samoan islands, and Ketsana.

Another typhoon, Melor, was churning Sunday in the Philippine Sea, 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) to the east.

___

Associated Press Writer Debby Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

Picture of the Week: A water commute



While on a trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, in March, Dave and Jan Steller of San Diego shot several monks traveling to the floating village of Chong Kneas on Tonie Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The village is made up of houseboats with floating gardens, a floating elementary school and basketball court

Images from afar

October 4, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Have a travel photo you’d like to see published in Travel? Send it to Best Shot, The San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112. In 200 words or less, tell us how and where you shot the picture and be sure to include your name and a daytime phone number so that we can contact you if we have questions. Photos will not be returned.

Ancient temples, present coexist in Cambodia


Overgrown with vegetation, a stone dharmasala, or rest house, lies outside one of the entrances to Banteay Chhmar in Cambodia, about 65 miles from Angkor Wat.

Behind the Banteay Chhmar temple, carved human features can still be discerned.

Bodies sink into the watery depths during a naval battle depicted in temple bas-reliefs from the 12th century.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's early on a Sunday morning in Cambodia, and I'm standing at a 12th-century moat. Traces of mist hover above the lotus leaves that dapple...

By John Burgess
The Washington Post

(Post by CAAI News Media)

It's early on a Sunday morning in Cambodia, and I'm standing at a 12th-century moat. Traces of mist hover above the lotus leaves that dapple the water. Across a causeway, through a tumbled-down gate, lies Banteay Chhmar, one of the largest temples ever built by the ancient Khmer Empire. My friends and I are going to have the place all to ourselves.

We walk in. It turns out that we do end up sharing it, with a local man who brings his cows onto the grounds to graze. And with an affable mason who leads us across acres of fallen stone to see a message from the past, an inscription chiseled into the doorjamb of a holy tower. This kind of company we welcome.

Cambodia's great temples of Angkor, 65 miles away, have long since been rediscovered after a quarter-century of closure by war. They now draw more than a million foreign visitors a year, not a few of whom regret that so many other people had the same idea. At peak hours, human traffic jams can form at temple steps once reserved for kings and priests.

But go beyond Angkor and you can find places that serve up the old solitude and sense of discovery. You can explore at your own pace, to the sounds of birds and the breeze that stirs the leaves overhead.

Banteay Chhmar is among the most spectacular of these places. Getting to it entails hours on very bumpy and dusty dirt roads. Staying the night means making do with primitive accommodations: candlelit rooms in local homes, bath water drawn from a moat.

I stayed the night, and it turned out to really make the visit. The next morning I rose early, as everyone here does, and took a walk in clean country air. I passed mother hens foraging with their chicks, boys tending to a mud oven in which charcoal was being made. I was seeing not only a temple but a way of life.

Today several thousand people — rice farmers, cattle herders, market vendors — make their homes on all four sides of the temple. They grow vegetables on the banks of a series of moats; they pile straw within the walls of lesser ancient buildings that dot their settlement. The ancient and present day coexist.

Banteay Chhmar was created in the Khmer Empire's last great burst of construction, under the 12th-century Buddhist king Jayavarman VII. His engineers were thinking big even by Khmer standards: To contain a great settlement, they built earthworks and moats that formed a square measuring roughly one mile on each side. At its center, within another square moat system half a mile on each side, they built the temple.

More than a century ago, French archaeologist Etienne Aymonier found the temple to be in a state of "indescribable ruin." It still is, despite the efforts of that friendly mason, who is part of a small reconstruction team. But that's part of what makes the site so enticing. Exploring it means climbing over huge piles of large fallen stones, something to be tackled by only the sure-footed. We passed ruined towers, courtyards and ceremonial walkways. Sometimes the stones were so high that we were walking at roof level.

The temple is no longer a formal religious site, but Cambodians believe that it, like all those that their forebears left behind, remains a holy site. In one surviving chamber we found a small contemporary shrine, with a Buddha image wearing a cloth robe, where people made incense offerings. When rain is needed, local people are reported to walk in a procession around the temple, imploring heaven to help.

One of the best parts of this temple is the many hundreds of feet of bas-reliefs on its outer walls. We had to scramble up more stones to get a good view. Before us was a full sample of life 900 years ago: processions of elephants, prominent ladies tended by maids, children roughhousing, villagers in a sampan, servants tending a stove.

There were also many scenes of war with Champa, the long-vanished rival state to the east: The temple is in large part a memorial to four generals who lost their lives in that long conflict. There are also images of the divine, notably the god Vishnu, with 32 arms arrayed like rays of light emanating from the sun.

The carving style is similar to that of the Bayon temple reliefs in Angkor. The difference is there's no need to fight for a view. We did cross paths for a few minutes our first day with a party of about 20 French-speaking tourists. We saw no other visitors that day or the next.

Late in the afternoon, we went for a look at what the ancient Khmers could do with water. Just east of the temple, they created a reservoir that measures roughly a mile by a half-mile. Academics disagree over whether this body, and others like it, did only symbolic duty as earthly stand-ins for the mythic Sea of Creation, or were part of a vast irrigation system, or both. Whatever the truth, I was awed by the scale.

I passed the night at the house of a Cambodian family, friends of a friend. They couldn't have been more gracious. They gave me a room of my own, bottled water, mosquito coils and a big luxury: a car battery hooked to a fluorescent light. I could have light all night if I wanted it.

Other members of our party slept at a formal homestay, the term given to guesthouses as well as family homes that accept paying guests, a few steps from the temple's gate. It had two rooms with large beds covered by mosquito nets. Downstairs there was a basic bathroom with a squat toilet and scoop bath.

Staying the night brought another cultural experience. A festival was going on nearby, and its amplified music carried into my room as I sat reading. Then around 10 p.m., silence. Private generators don't run all night, even for a celebration.

I got up at dawn, scoop-bathed in slightly murky water and walked to the moat from which it had been drawn. I took in the early-morning sights: the mist, dogs prowling around in first light.

I first visited Angkor in 1969. Back then, you could be alone in the big temples even there. I once walked through the largest of them, Angkor Wat, encountering hardly a soul. It's good to know that such an experience can still be had. You just have to work a bit harder for it.

Nail Art Makes A Splash In Cambodia


Creative nail designs on display, AP Photo
By Ker Yann, VOA Khmer
Video Editor: Manilene Ek
03 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News media)

WATCH VIDEO, click here.

The popularity and quality of nail art in Cambodia has been on the increase in recent years. Beautifully painted nails are now an important fashion accessory for Cambodian women looking to stand out from the crowd.

The growing number of professional nail salons, especially in the capital of Phnom Penh, has helped take nail art in Cambodia to a whole new level. Staff in the best nail shops staff undergo years of training to master the necessary techniques. Girls learn by decorating the rounded surfaces of bowls in aesthetics classes. The minute details of their designs are carefully practiced and improved before they can be hired.

Sun Heang - one of Cambodia best known beauticians - is the owner of Christina's Beauty School in Phnom Penh. She says a steady hand and an eye for detail are the important for a successful nail therapist, but creative flair is important too.

Sun Heang:"Customers choose the style they want depending on which occasion they are celebrating. This one for example is popular around Valentine’s Day, because it features love hearts. In hot weather glitter is the most popular because it makes your nails sparkle in the sun."

Most importantly, she says, the manicurists have to have a clear idea of the design and know how to execute it even before the first brush stroke. Sun Heang studied nail art in Thailand, Vietnam and China before returning to Cambodia to open her own beauty salon five years ago. She also owns a beauty school where she passes on her skills and knowledge to more than 300 eager students.

Nail art is especially popular among young Cambodian women attending events like weddings and birthday parties. The bigger the occasion, the more elaborate the design. But it's a time consuming process and it can take more than two hours to complete a full manicure.

Pheak Chan Vorleak is patiently waiting for her manicure. She has picked a pattern with three-dimensional white roses on a sparkling pink background. She says it is important to her that she stands out in the crowd later tonight at her birthday party.

Pheak Chan: "I came here to get my nails done because I'm hosting a big birthday party. Because I'm a Cambodian girl I have to dress up for my guests. It's very important that I have my nails looking good when I greet them."

The culture is such that intricately and carefully decorated nails translate as kudos for their owner. Because each nail must be individually painted by hand, each one is unique.

Nail art fashion changes with the season says Sun Heang, with different patterns becoming popular around major holidays. Each design last about three weeks and typically costs from about $5 dollars for a simple design to more than $45 dollars for something more elaborate.

Information for this report was provided by APTN.

The second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh


(L-R) Vietnam's Foreign Minister Dao Viet Trung,Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Laos' Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win prepare to take a photo during the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 3 , 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


(L-R) Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Dao Viet Trung, Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong , Laos' Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win poss for a photo during the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 3 , 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win attends the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 3 , 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya speaks during the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 3 , 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunt (Post by CAAI News Media)


Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada attends the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 3, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada (C) leads a delegation attending the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) nort-west of Phnom Penh, October 3 , 2009 . REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) shakes hands with Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win (L) during a private meeting at Hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 2, 2009 . REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) greets Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win (L) during a private meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 2, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Cambodia prime minister Hun Sen (R) greets Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win (L) during a private meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 2, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (L) ,Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Dao Viet Trung (2nd L) ,cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd R) and Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong attend the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting at a hotel in Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, October 3 , 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)

CAAI: Day in Picture


Tourists take photographs during a tour of the Bayon Temple, part of the Angkor temple complex, in the Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) north-west of Phnom Penh October 02, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News media)


Tourists pose as their friend takes photographs while they tour the Bayon Temple, part of the Angkor temple complex, in the Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) north-west of Phnom Penh October 2, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Tourists take photographs during a tour of the Bayon Temple, part of the Angkor temple complex, in the Siem Reap province, 230km (143 miles) north-west of Phnom Penh October 02, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Post by CAAI News Media)


Tourists are seen walking past Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province, Cambodia. Tempting tourists back when the bombing stops is never easy, but war-weary Asian countries are planning new treats for travellers in a bid to cash in on a "peace dividend" (AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy) (Post by CAAI News media)


Tourist ride elephants at one of the main shrines at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourist seeking that one last great destination. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) (Post by CAAI News Media)


Rays of morning sunrise beam behind the towers of the legendary Angkor Wat temple north of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers, 143 miles, northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) (Post by CAAI News Media)

AP Top Stories



 (Post by CAAI News Media)
Here's the latest news for Friday, October 2: Brazil wins Olympic bid; Indonesia still searching for quake survivors; Obama calls jobs report sobering and a CBS worker has pleaded not guilty in Letterman extortion plot.

Southeast Asia: Typhoon Ketsana Information Bulletin No. 1

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Date: 03 Oct 2009
Full Report (pdf format - 758.4 Kbytes)

GLIDE TC-2009-000205-KHM

This bulletin is being issued for information only and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Federation is not seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this operation. The Cambodian Red Cross and the Lao Red Cross will, however, accept direct assistance to provide support to the affected population.

Typhoon Ketsana, proving to be one of the most destructive typhoons in recent years, continued its path of destruction across Southeast Asia on Wednesday, 30 September, flattening houses and collapsing infrastructure in both Cambodia and Lao PDR, after submerging 80 per cent of Metro Manila in the Philippines, and wrecking life and property across central Viet Nam.

Ketsana continued into Cambodia, striking Kampong Thom, hardest by razing many home in the five districts of Sandan, Baray, Santouk, Balang and Sambo.

Neighbouring Lao PDR also did not escape the fury of Ketsana. Lao Red Cross assessments indicate that many areas in Savannakhet, Saravan, Sekong and Attapeu and other provinces in the south were affected by floods. To date, Lao Red Cross has stated that up to 16 people are reported dead while 143 are missing. At least 37,500 people have been displaced due to flash flooding caused by Ketsana. Lao Red Cross branch volunteers and staff continue to help evacuate people to safer sites.

The International Federation is currently in the process of applying for disaster relief emergency funding (DREF) to support operations in Cambodia.

The situation

In Cambodia, Typhoon Ketsana struck the northern part of the country on the evening of 29 September, causing destruction in several provinces including Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Orddor Mean Chey, Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri.

In the central province of Kampong Thom, at least 100 houses in five districts were flattened. These include 39 in Sandan district, 45 in Baray, 15 in Santouk, two in Balang, and two in Sambo. Up to 12 people are reported dead and 20 injured in Sandaan, with 18 injured in Baray.

Emergency response from the national headquarters and the Kampong Thom CRC branch provided emergency response the next day (30 September), especially in the hardest-hit district of Sandan. This included assistance to 39 families with cash, rice, tinned fish, instant noodles, sarong, krama, one mosquito net per family. Similar relief items were planned for distribution to the four other districts the next day.

In Preah Vihear, four districts are affected with Chhey Sen district the worst hit. To date, 1,026 families have been evacuated to safer ground. Up to 230 families in Khum Putrea, Chey Sen district bordering Roveang district were accessible by road and received aid in the form of tents (250 from local authority and 200 from Cambodian Red Cross), 25 kg of rice per family, 500 boxes of instant noodles, sarong, krama and mosquito nets. Rice and instant noodles constitute the primary need followed by mosquito nets, as the area is deemed malaria-endemic.

The CRC Preah Vihear branch is working in close cooperation with the provincial authority and has mobilized local resources for the response operation. Immediate needs in Preah Vihear are plastic sheets, drinking water, mosquito nets, and instant food items. Boats are needed for the evacuation of families and transport of relief items to beneficiaries.

In Rattanakiri, the five districts affected are Ondoung Meas, Lum Phat, Veun Say, Ta Veng and O Yadao. Most severely affected is Ondoung Meas, where 777 houses are damaged and 860 families evacuated. Access to these areas is highly precarious as water currents are still very strong. So far, three people are reported dead, and 10 houses collapsed. Damage assessments continue in these areas.

In Mondulkiri, an estimated four districts are affected. Despite relatively milder rain and wind, the access road to Kos Nhek district is sinking up to 0.5 metres at some points.

In Siem Reap province, the storm has abated. However, in Sot Nikum district, furious winds flattened 50 houses while in Angkor Thom district, one death and five injuries have been reported and eight houses destroyed. As field assessments are ongoing, fresh information from the field is expected over the next few days.

In Lao PDR, Lao Red Cross has identified six southern provinces that have been hard-struck by Ketsana. Up to 155,500 persons were directly affected, and 37,500 displaced. The national society has reported 16 dead, 143 missing and 120 injured. Lao Red Cross branches continue to help evacuate people to safer sites. To date, 3,500 people have received assistance from the national society with the help of 25 national staff and 120 volunteers.

The Lao Red Cross disaster management has informed the regional disaster management unit (RDMU) in Bangkok that present flooding in the country far exceeds the floods that occurred in August 2008. The government of Lao PDR has allocated about USD 120,000 (CHF or EUR) to assist those affected through the procurement of relief items.

Myanmar Minister Holds Talks With Suu Kyi




By REUTERS
Published: October 3, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi held a rare meeting with a minister from the ruling junta on Saturday, a government source said, a week after she offered to work for withdrawal of sanctions on the country.

The detained Nobel laureate met Aung Kyi, the junta's Labour Minister assigned two years ago to act as a liaison between Suu Kyi and the ruling generals, at Yangon's Insein Prison.

"The meeting lasted about 50 minutes, but I don't know what was discussed," an official from the Home Ministry, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

It was initially unclear about where the impromptu talks took place, and Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party said it was not told in advance.

Suu Kyi last week made a formal offer to the regime to help negotiate with Western nations to lift sanctions on the country, which critics say have been largely ineffective.

The United States on Tuesday held talks with representatives of the Myanmar government but emphasized that the lifting of sanctions would be a mistake.

Aung Kyi, who is also the junta's Relations Minister, has met with Suu Kyi on six previous occasions, the last time in January 2008.

The meeting came a day after a Yangon court upheld a guilty verdict on Suu Kyi for a security breach committed in May, meaning she will remain under house until after next year's elections, the first in the former Burma since 1990.

DIALOGUE WELCOMED

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said it was likely Suu Kyi and Aung Kyi discussed the offer made by the Nobel Peace Prize winner in a letter to junta supremo Than Shwe last week.

"We don't yet know exactly what was discussed, but we welcome this dialogue," he told Reuters, adding that a Home Ministry official he met with on Friday did not tell him a meeting was being planned.

Suu Kyi, 64, the daughter of the late Myanmar independence hero Aung San, has been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, mostly held at her home next to the Inya lake.

Critics say her latest stint of house arrest, for allowing an American intruder to stay for two nights at her home, was a ploy to minimize her threat and keep her away from next year's polls.

Analysts say the vote, the first in Myanmar in two decades, will likely entrench nearly 50 years of army rule, with key ministries remaining under military control and parliament likely to be dominated by retired generals and junta cronies.

In a rare public comment, Myanmar's reclusive Foreign Minister Nyan Win said the junta was yet to decide on when the long-awaited and widely dismissed polls will take place.

"Our government will release a possible date later," he told reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of the Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

"Will it be free and fair or not, so far, nobody can judge. After the election will be held you can judge it if that is free and fair or not," he added when asked if the polls would be legitimate.

In a joint statement released during the meeting of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Myanmar, the ministers said they "believed the upcoming general elections would be transparent, democratic and inclusive," and commended Myanmar for its recent release of more than 7,000 prisoners.

(Additional reporting by Ek Madra in Siem Reap; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

UN Human Rights Rapporteur Mentions the Universal Periodic Review of Cambodia about Human Rights Issues in Cambodia – Saturday, 3.10.2009

Posted on 4 October 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 632
(Post by CAAI News Media)

“The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia of the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Surya Subedi, could not avoid to openly speak about some disturbing trends in the human rights situation in Cambodia.

“According to a statement released by the United Nations on Friday, available on the Internet, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia of the UN Human Rights Council, Dr. Surya Subedi, [said that Cambodia has made remarkable progress over the last three decades in promoting human rights and democratizing the system of governance, but he also] clearly criticized the judiciary and the restrictions on the freedom of expression in Cambodia.

“Many practical examples he raised are not different from those in official reports of previous UN human rights envoys to Cambodia.

“Being unable to report against the truth to satisfy Cambodian leaders of the government and of the Cambodian People’s Party, whose rule led to disturbing trends of human rights violations countrywide, Mr. Subedi expressed concerns about the human rights situation in Cambodia.

“According to his report, the rule of law in Cambodia is weak, and the judiciary is not as independent as it should be.

“While giving examples, Mr. Subedi raised the problems of the freedom of expression, the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly and of demonstrations that the Constitution of the country allows Khmer citizens to exercise, which are sometimes restricted ['although people need by law to seek permission to hold public demonstrations, which is sometimes refused on unspecified security grounds, and arbitrary restrictions on travel or holding meetings have sometimes been imposed'].

“Also, he mentioned the case of a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian – from the biggest opposition party in Cambodia – Ms. Mu Sochua, who had been sentenced by a court, controlled by the government of the Cambodian People’s Party, to lose her case unjustly, because she had dared to protest against the powerful in Cambodia.

“The cases of two journalists were also cited as examples to indicate that the judiciary in Cambodia is not independent.

“Especially the laws itself, regulating speech, are considered to fall short of the standards permissible [according to international human rights treaties and practice] where the powers in Cambodia use defamation lawsuits to put unjustifiable punishments against critics who are politicians, civil society officials, or free journalists.

“Also, he described that defamation is used, taking a restrictive approach to the freedom of speech, different from international human rights treaties which Cambodia has signed, which require to openly protect the freedom of speech, expression, and assembly etc…

“These are the processes of reality which were reported by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.

“The special rapporteur of the United Nations noticed that critics against high ranking officials of the government or against the government had been accused and prosecuted for defamation and disinformation.

“As a human rights observer to Cambodia, he found the reality of a deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia, as seen by Khmer citizens who are victimized, where even the immunity of senior politicians from the opposition party, who are parliamentarians, had been withdrawn.

“It can be assumed that his remarks will not satisfy the government, though there is not yet any immediate reaction. Mr. Subedi mentioned also the Universal Periodic Review of the Cambodian situation by the UN Human Rights Council [due in December 2009].

“In the past, the Prime Minister and high ranking officials of the government had always reacted immediately, being not satisfied with the reports of the UN human rights envoys to Cambodia.

“Now, people are waiting to see the reactions from the Prime Minister, or from high ranking officials, or from the human rights commission of the government over Mr. Subedi’s report and how the UN Human Rights Council can help to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia.

“Mr. Subedi’s remarks were made, while the National Assembly of Cambodia is rushing to adopt a penal code in which at least 43 articles among more than 600 articles are seen with concern by opposition party politicians, especially the Sam Rainsy Party, independent legal people, and civil society officials. This draft is criticized as narrowing the freedom of expression.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #501, 3.10.2009

Note:

While the Cambodia related parts of the session of the UN Human Rights Council seemed important enough to be reported in detail, we did not find any other press report – the present one does not do justice to the clearly and rationally considered report of the Rapporteur, and his continued effort to build a relation of mutual trust with the Cambodian government for his duties. In the only report available today, information and political judgment of the writer are mixed, so that the report of the Rapporteur with its specific observations, considerations, and suggestions is not broadly reflected.

We will try to rectify and clarify this through the editorial due tomorrow.

Norbert Klein, Editor

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 October 2009

Village deaths to lift Indonesian quake death toll


Indonesians pass a collapsed building Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 in the Sumatran Island city of Padang, Indonesia, three days after Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude quake that toppled thousands of buildings. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)


By IRWAN FIRDAUS and ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writers
(Post by CAAI News Media)

PADANG, Indonesia – The death toll from Indonesia's massive earthquake will likely double as officials on Saturday reached rural communities wiped out by landslides that buried more than 600 people under mountains of mud, most of them guests at a wedding celebration.

Virtually nothing remained of four villages that had dotted the hillside of the Padang Pariman district in Indonesia's West Sumatra just three days ago, said officials and an Associated Press photographer who flew over the devastated area.

Hundreds of doctors, nurses, search and rescue experts and cleanup crews arrived at the regional airport from around the globe with tons of food, tents, medicine, clean water, generators and a field hospital.

But with no electricity, fuel shortages and telecommunication outages the massive operation was chaotic.

Roughly 400 people were at a communal wedding in Pulau Aiya village when Wednesday's 7.6 magnitude quake unleashed a torrent of mud, rock and felled palm trees, said Rustam Pakaya, the head of Indonesia's Health Ministry crisis center.

"They were sucked 30 meters (100 feet) deep into the earth," he said. "Even the mosque's minaret, taller than 20 meters (65 feet), disappeared."

Twenty-six bodies were pulled from the rubble-strewn brown earth in nearby Lubuk Lawe and Jumena, but 618 bodies remained far beyond the reach of residents who worked without outside help because roads had been severed, he said.

The number of fatalities in the disaster will jump to more than 1,300 if all those people are confirmed dead. The government's death toll on Saturday held steady at 715, most reported in the region's badly hit capital of 900,000, Padang, where aid efforts are concentrated.

As many as 3,000 people had been declared missing before news about the obliterated villages emerged, while 2,400 were hospitalized and tens of thousands of people are believed to have been displaced.

More than 1.1 million residents live in the 10 quake-hit districts, the United Nations estimated in a situation assessment, while the government said more than 30,000 homes, schools, mosques, hospitals and government offices had been flattened or severely damaged — 17 percent of all local infrastructure.

An AP photographer who flew over Padang Pariaman district in a helicopter saw several landslides in the area.

At Limo Koto Timur village, a giant section of a hillside was swept away and the remains of destroyed houses protruded from the mud. The ruins of other tin-roofed homes hung precariously over the edge of a huge crevice that was torn through rice fields and forest. Roads were gone and palm trees had been uprooted and swept downhill, leaving patches of brown earth where villages once stood.

El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Indonesia, told the AP that 200 houses were swept away in Pulau Aiya. Aid efforts are "still concentrated in Padang area," with outlying areas still short of aid, Benlamlih said, adding that aid agencies would focus on restoring water, electricity, sanitation and preventing disease.

Deliveries came on C-130 cargo planes from the United States, Russia and Australia. Japanese, Swiss, South Korean and Malaysian search and rescue teams scoured the debris. Tens of millions of dollars in donations came from more than a dozen countries to supplement $400 million the Indonesian government said it would spend over the next two months.

On Friday, survivors buried under a collapsed hotel in Padang sent a cell-phone text message to a relative saying he and some others were alive. But, disappointed rescue workers were unable to locate anyone at the Ambacang hotel where as many as 200 people were staying.

After several hours of digging through blocks of concrete, steel and bricks, rescue workers gave up. Padang police chief Col. Boy Rafli Amar told reporters, "So far rescuers have found nothing."

Hidehiro Murase, head of a Japanese search dog team, said its search had been fruitless.

"We did an extensive search this morning, but there were no signs of life. Our dogs are trained to smell for living people, not the dead, and they didn't sense anything," he told the AP.

The U.N. said there are sufficient fuel stocks in the area for four days, but with the road to a major depot cut off by landslides gasoline prices had jumped six-fold.

Areas with "huge levels of damage to infrastructure were in need of basic food and tents for temporary shelter," it said.

Wednesday's quake originated on the same fault line that spawned the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen nations.

___

Associated Press photographer Dita Alangkara in Padang and writers Ali Kotarumalos, Anthony Deutsch, Niniek Karmini and Vijay Joshi in Jakarta contributed to this report.

Latest typhoon kills 4 in Philippines


Taiwanese girls look out from the back of a military truck leaving their hometown in preparation for the arrival of Typhoon Parma in Baolai, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009, in Kaohsiung County, Taiwan. Taiwan issued a storm warning and began moving people out of villages in the southern county of Kaohsiung. (AP Photo)


By ROHAN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
(Post by CAAI News media)

MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Parma cut a path across the Philippines' northern edge on Saturday, killing four people but sparing the capital from a second flood disaster as the storm churned toward Taiwan.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos had evacuated their homes as the storm bore down on the main island of Luzon just eight days after an earlier tempest left Manila awash in floods that killed almost 300 people.

Also helping to reduce the damage, Parma weakened slightly and changed course overnight Friday so that it missed central Luzon and clipped the more sparsely populated and mountainous north.

Still, winds of 108 mph (175 kph) battered towns in at least two provinces and pelted the northeast of the country with downpours that swelled rivers to bursting, toppled power pylons and trees, and cut communication lines to outlying towns, officials said.

Parma was heading northwest toward Taiwan, which declared a storm warning Saturday and began evacuating villages in southern Kaohsiung county, where 700 people were killed in a typhoon in August.

"The typhoon could bring torrential rain and trigger flash flooding, so government agencies should be prepared," Vice Premier Eric Chu was quoted as saying by the government-owned Central News Agency.

In the Philippines' hard-hit Isabela province, one man drowned and another died from exposure to the cold and wet weather, said Lt. Col. Loreto Magundayao of an army division based there.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said another two people died from the storm in the eastern province of Camarines Sur — one man fell from a roof and a two-year-old boy drowned.

Parma hit the coast mid-afternoon Saturday, and local officials said the true extent of damage would not be known until communications were restored with outlying areas on Sunday or later.

"The damage is quite heavy," Roberto Damian, the police chief of Cagayan province, told ABS-CBN television. "We are clearing highways and roads to reach people calling for rescue."

In Ilagan, Isabela's capital, the swollen Cagayan River rose enough to swamp two bridges, officials said. In the Cagayan city of Tuguegarao, telephone landlines were down and mobile services were intermittent, said Chito Castro, regional director for the Office of Civil Defense.

Ahead of the storm, weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo warned that heavy rain could trigger landslides and flooding, and strong winds could create tidal surges along the eastern coast. None of those conditions were reported by Saturday night.

Manila escaped the worst of the storm. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana caused the worst flooding in four decades, killing at least 288 people and damaging the homes of 3 million.

Rain fell in the city most of Saturday, and stiff gusts of winds blew, but no new flooding or damage was immediately reported.

Even before the storm hit, officials in eastern provinces judged they were no longer in danger and began moving back people who had been evacuated from coastal areas that might have been in the path of the storm.

After devastating parts of Manila, Ketsana went on to hit other Southeast Asian countries, killing 99 in Vietnam, 14 in Cambodia and 16 in Laos.

Parma was part of more than a week of destruction in the Asia-Pacific region that has claimed more than 1,500 lives so far: an earthquake Wednesday in Indonesia; a tsunami Tuesday in the Samoan islands, and Ketsana.

Another typhoon, Melor, was churning in the Philippine Sea, 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) to the east, threatening the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Most businesses there were shut Saturday morning, and residents of the island of Saipan who don't live in concrete homes moved to typhoon shelters, said Charles Reyes, Northern Marianas Gov. Benigno Fitial's press secretary.

___

Associated Press writers Oliver Teves in Manila and Debby Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

New Japanese government pledges to continue aid Cambodia+


(Post by CAAI News Media)
SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Oct. 3 (AP) - (Kyodo)—New Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada assured his Cambodian counterpart Saturday that despite a change of government in Japan, policy toward Cambodia remains unchanged, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said after meeting with Okada.
Hor Namhong, also deputy prime minister, said the pledge was made by Okada during bilateral talks on the sideline of the second Mekong- Japan foreign ministerial meeting in Cambodia's northern province Siem Reap.

In a separate press briefing, Kazuo Okada, press secretary of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, said the foreign minister touched on several issues during his meeting with Hor Namhong, including the Khmer Rouge trial, Japanese official development assistance, investment, removal of land mines and Japanese nongovernmental organizations working in Cambodia.

On demining, Okada said Japan is planning to provide 1.1 billion yen for removal of unexploded ordnance, while at the same time Japan is committed to continue supporting the trial process of former leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, according to the press secretary.

Japan has been the leading donor to Cambodia after the signing of the Cambodia Peace Agreement in 1991.

Aung San Suu Kyi's failed appeal symbolises Burma's tragedy


Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2002 Photograph: STEPHEN SHAVER/AFP/Getty Images


(Post by CAAI News media)

Lack of freedom of speech worsens the waste of talent in an impoverished country, writes new UK ambassador in Rangoon

At 10.45am today (local time), the Rangoon divisional court announced its decision on Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal. The appeal was rejected. No one was surprised by this outcome, despite her legal team's meticulously prepared arguments and public expressions of optimism ahead of the decision. The next stop is the supreme court, where it is difficult to imagine there will be a different outcome.

So Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. More than 2,000 other prisoners of conscience are being held across the country. They all symbolise the tragedy of the country, in which freedom of speech is ruthlessly controlled.

But the tragedy actually goes deeper than this. Burma is chronically poor. Its education and health systems are hopelessly underfunded, leaving NGOs and the UN – supported by the UK and other donors' contributions – to fill some of the gaps in services that government should be delivering. Its economy has fallen further and further behind its regional neighbours due to disastrous economic policies. And, just as Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow political prisoners symbolise the waste of talent in the political sphere, the waste of talent in the economic and business fields is equally damaging.

It is hard to describe what life is like for ordinary people here trying to make a living. Credit is hard, if not impossible, to get. The infrastructure is sub-standard across the country. Power cuts happen many times a day. Water supply is erratic. So even if you can set up an office or factory, how do you run it? The workforce is willing and helpful, but bureaucracy hinders innovation. Not to mention the difficulties caused by artificially controlled exchange rates, corruption and strict import rules. So only the most optimistic or well-connected entrepreneur would give it a go.

For most Burmese being unable to speak freely about their country is just one of the frustrations. Those I speak to focus as much, sometimes more so, on the difficulty of making ends meet. Most work incredibly long hours and earn pitifully little. It is subsistence living and for most people future prospects are equally bleak. It is truly remarkable that in the face of this adversity people here remain so extraordinarily hospitable and cheerful.

And yet it could be so different. Burma has abundant natural resources – gas, oil, hardwoods and precious stones to name but a few. It could be a tourist mecca. The potential of its paddy fields means that yields could be among the highest in Asia. Instead they are the lowest. Managed effectively and with access to global knowledge, the prospects for the country could be far better.

So for me, Aung San Suu Kyi's case symbolises not only the struggle of the ordinary people for freedom of expression. She and her 2,000-plus fellow prisoners also represent a much wider waste of human potential. Talents wasted across the board here – Burmese doctors effectively forced to practise abroad; businessmen having to set up elsewhere rather than here; teachers beaten down by the poor pay; and so the list goes on. Burma – a potential economic powerhouse – is on its knees. And will stay there until the many talents of its people are allowed to flourish.

Myanmar minister promises 'free and fair' elections


Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win



(Post by CAAI News Media)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia — Myanmar's foreign minister promised Saturday his country would hold "free and fair" elections next year, despite the detention of democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.

"In my country free and fair elections will be held. We have already announced it," Myanmar foreign minister Nyan Win told reporters after a meeting with counterparts in Cambodia's northwestern tourist hub.

"(Whether) the elections are free and fair or not, so far no one can judge it. After the elections will be held, you can judge whether the elections are free and fair or not."

A Myanmar court Friday rejected an appeal by Suu Kyi against her conviction over an incident in which a US man swam uninvited to her home in May, earning her an extra 18 months' detention.

The sentence sidelines her from the elections promised for 2010, leading critics to say the polls are a sham.

The minister made the remarks after meeting with the foreign ministers of Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam for talks intended to foster development within the Mekong region.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962, and the junta refused to acknowledge the landslide win of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party in the last elections in 1990.

Japanese foreign minister Katsuya Okada said the talks raised "Myanmar-related questions".

"We hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will be released and transparent elections will be conducted with the participation of all political parties," he told reporters.

Myanmar's foreign minister told his counterparts that "democracy can't be imposed from outside," Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said.

Japan's new government has voiced hopes of fostering ties with countries in the Mekong region.

Suu Kyi, who has spent much of the last 20 years in detention, had a rare meeting with junta minister Aung Kyi Saturday, in which her lawyer said they probably discussed how to end Western sanctions against Myanmar.

Myanmar says nuclear ambitions are peaceful - Japan


Sat Oct 3, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

By Ek Madra
SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Reuters) - Japan said on Saturday it had been assured by military-ruled Myanmar that it was not developing nuclear weapons even though it was working with Russia on a nuclear energy programme.

Myanmar has remained tight-lipped about its nuclear plans, despite speculation it has been receiving help from North Korea to build nuclear facilities near its remote capital with the intent of developing a weapon.

Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win told his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada that his country was seeking Russia's expertise, but only in developing a peaceful energy programme for its people.

"(Nyan Win) told Japan's foreign minister that Myanmar has no intention to have a nuclear weapon," Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama told reporters on the sidelines of a Mekong-Japan ministerial meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

"Myanmar has conducted a consultation to have assistance from Russia for a peaceful use of nuclear energy."

Kazuo did not say if the issue of any nuclear links with North Korea was discussed.

Academic researchers said in August Myanmar was building a secret nuclear reactor and plutonium facility in caves tunnelled into a mountain, citing intelligence from two defectors.

The defectors also said Myanmar, which has known reserves of uranium ore, had provided refined "yellowcake" processed uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel to Iran and North Korea.

The isolated country has been under Western sanctions for two decades and analysts say a nuclearised Myanmar could trigger an arms race in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a security forum in Thailand in July that she was concerned about the possible transfer of nuclear technology to Myanmar from North Korea.

In reference to ties between North Korea and Myanmar, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, said there were "some signs that that cooperation has extended into areas that would be prohibited".

However, many analysts have said evidence of attempts to develop nuclear weapons is scant and have questioned the reliability of the defectors' information.

(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alison Williams)