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Amid aid delays, locals in Burma (Myanmar) rebuild

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"The government made a decision in principle, and then it had to work out the details later," he says, after returning to a hotel in central Rangoon from a two-day trip into the delta. "Nobody really knew how the agreement would be applied. It wasn't a simple procedure. We've been trying to work out the system at the same time as the government."

"We were told it would take 48 hours advance notice for clearance. Now we're finding out it's taking 72," he adds.

About 45 UN visa requests have been approved since General Shwe promised last week to allow in "all" legitimate foreign aid workers.

"We haven't been able to get the whole mechanism going. Progress has been slow," Hakan Tongul, deputy director in Burma of the UN's World Food Program, told Reuters.

Burmese leaders rejected criticism of its handling of aid efforts Sunday, after US Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused the generals ruling the country of "criminal neglect."

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