RAY SUAREZ: You've been trying to get directly in contact with the leader of the military junta, General Shwe. Have you been successful?
BAN KI-MOON: I have been trying to talk with him directly over the phone. Unfortunately, I have not been able to speak with him, but I have sent two letters to him. I was told that he had read my letters.
And I am going to send another letter through my undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Mr. John Holmes, who will be visiting this Sunday Myanmese authorities. I understand that he's now scheduled to meet with the prime minister of Myanmar on Sunday.
RAY SUAREZ: Secretary-General, if you could get General Shwe on the phone, what would you tell him?
BAN KI-MOON: My message is quite clear. This is very serious human tragedy. The whole international community is ready to provide necessary assistance. It's not about politics; we are now talking about saving human lives.
Therefore, while I would respect their sovereign right to look after their own people, in view of the magnitude of this crisis, they need international community.
Simply, their capacity has been worn out. And even United Nations is having difficulty with only 1,500 people on the ground. Their capacity has been exhausted already.
Many people are waiting in nearby countries, including Bangkok, Thailand. Therefore, they should expedite the issuance of visas.
RAY SUAREZ: Representatives of several U.N. members have started to speak publicly about a concept in international law called the responsibility to protect and have speculated about the possibility of a forced humanitarian intervention without the cooperation of the Myanmarese authorities.
Does this worry you, this kind of talk?
BAN KI-MOON: I have been doing my best efforts, focusing on saving human lives. This is a humanitarian crisis. Therefore, it would be much desirable that our energy and time should be focused in saving lives.
This concept of responsibility to protect is also very important one, adopted and approved by the world leaders in 2000. But this is mainly for the purpose of international crimes, such as genocide, international war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.
Therefore, at this time, we'd better focus our time and energy on these humanitarian issues, rather than political consideration.
I'm quite convinced that we will have an opportunity later, when we help those people on humanitarian ground urgently, then we will discuss all other matters.
RAY SUAREZ: But it sounds as if you're saying that so far, in your view, this doesn't reach the threshold of a crime against humanity, that blocking help for people who need help doesn't constitute a crime against humanity.
BAN KI-MOON: I'm not discussing anything about criteria or threshold of this concept of responsibility to protect. I am only emphasizing that this is time for humanitarian actions at this time.
RAY SUAREZ: I understand that the people of the delta are also racing the clock in having to get another rice crop into the ground. They have to get one fairly soon, don't they?
BAN KI-MOON: About 20 percent of their rice paddies have been damaged, and this planting season has already started.Therefore, before it is too late, it would be extremely important and crucially important that international community should provide necessary agricultural input, so that they can start planting for their harvest.