Thai FM backs Laos in Asean affairs

Thai FM backs Laos in Asean affairs

Myanmar crisis at top of regional bloc's agenda

Asean foreign ministers pose for a customary handshake at the Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Luang Prabang, Laos, on Monday. Laos, the new Asean chair, hosted the two-day retreat. (Photo: Poramet Tangsathaporn)
Asean foreign ministers pose for a customary handshake at the Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Luang Prabang, Laos, on Monday. Laos, the new Asean chair, hosted the two-day retreat. (Photo: Poramet Tangsathaporn)

Luang Prabang: The Thai foreign minister said Thailand is ready to support Laos's role in dealing with the Myanmar crisis and other areas important to the Asean region.

Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara told the press on Monday that this would help ensure Laos's success in its Asean chairmanship this year.

Mr Parnpree said he held bilateral talks with Saleumxay Kommasith, his Lao counterpart, to discuss Laos-Thailand relations on Sunday.

The talks were held while the Lao government held an Asean foreign ministers' retreat that ended on Monday as a part of its Asean chairmanship.

He said that the Myanmar crisis was the main topic of discussion, and he said that Thailand was ready to support Laos's role in addressing the crisis.

Mr Parnpree said that the Asean community are greatly concerned about Myanmar's situation following the military coup of February 2021. He said he hopes peace can be restored there as soon as possible.

During the talk, he said he had shared how Thailand approached this crisis based on the five-point consensus, which includes halting all forms of violence, opening the country for humanitarian assistance and starting negotiations among various groups.

"One of these consensuses is humanitarian assistance, and Thailand sees that if we started from this consensus, it would help to lead us to another consensus to solve the problems," Mr Parnpree said.

"The Lao FM agreed on this principle, and I believe he will propose this method to the Asean summit this year," he said.

Mr Parnpree said he also had another talk with Retno Marsudi, the Indonesian foreign minister, to discuss Indonesia-Thailand relations. He said he also explained to the Indonesian FM Thailand's approach to the Myanmar crisis through humanitarian assistance, which he said Ms Marsudi agreed with.

The press asked Mr Parnpree about creating a safe area to provide humanitarian assistance concerning Myanmar's crisis and whether he would push forward such measures.

"We are in the process of considering an area to provide humanitarian assistance," he said.

"Between Feb 8-9, I will travel to Mae Sot to observe a possible area for establishing humanitarian assistance, and if that is suitable, there will be further procedures," he said.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Thailand's vice minister for foreign affairs, said that what Thailand would like to see on humanitarian initiatives from Myanmar is for the Tatmadaw to return to Asean and participate in high-level dialogue.

But to do that, he said that the Tatmadaw needs to respond to the five-point consensus.

Mr Sihasak said that Asean nations share the same collective goal -- to have progress under the consensus.

He said every Asean nation sees these principles as the main framework to solve Myanmar's crisis.

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