US May Withdraw Navy Aid Mission from Burma
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday he will make a decision within "a matter of days" to withdraw U.S. Navy ships from the coast of Myanmar, because "it's becoming pretty clear the regime is not going to let us help."
As a result, he said many more people will die, particularly those in areas that can only be reached by helicopters, such as those sitting idle on the U.S. ships.
Asked if the military junta there is guilty of genocide, Gates said, "I tend to see genocide more as a purposeful elimination of people, this is more akin, in my view, to criminal neglect."
Speaking to reporters at the close of an international security conference here, Gates said the Myanmar representative at the forum did not seem interested in speaking with him.
But he said "it was interesting to watch as minister after minister described their respective unhappiness at their inability to get assistance in to Burma."
But despite the rising anger and frustration with Myanmar's military leaders, Gates said that defense ministers meeting in Singapore over the weekend had unanimously opposed any plan to violate Burmese sovereignty and forcibly provide relief supplies.