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MANILA, Philippines -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an end to violence and the start of a dialogue to end the conflict in Sabah between Malaysian forces and followers of the Sulu sultanate.
A statement posted on the UN website said Ban was closely monitoring the situation and had expressed concern over the impact of the violence on civilians and migrants in the area.
"(The Secretary-General) urges all parties to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards," the statement said.
Early last month, followers of the sultanate, led by their crown prince, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, sailed to Sabah to press their claim to the territory.
After a lengthy standoff, violence erupted last week and, despite a massive assault mounted by Malaysian forces Tuesday, shows no signs of having ended with the fighting having killed at least 40 people from both sides.
Although the Philippines has deployed a ship with medical personnel and humanitarian relief, it has not been allowed to dock on Sabah.
Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III had earlier called on the UN to intervene in the conflict.