Asean endorses Thai initiative for Myanmar
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Asean endorses Thai initiative for Myanmar

Luang Prabang: Asean and Myanmar have welcomed Thailand's initiative to create a safe zone to provide humanitarian assistance as part of efforts to help solve the Myanmar crisis.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara gave details on the matter yesterday after the Asean Foreign Ministers' Retreat (AMM) hosted by Vientiane on Sunday and yesterday as part of its Asean chairmanship this year.

"It is Thailand's initiative to create a safe humanitarian zone between the Thailand-Myanmar border, and it has been welcomed by Asean members during the retreat," Mr Parnpree told the press.

"Everyone agreed on humanitarian assistance that will be provided to Myanmar," he said.

Mr Parnpree said the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA) centre will play a key role as the observer in this humanitarian assistance.

At the same time, he said, the Thai Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross will join hands in taking responsibility for the humanitarian assistance.

Mr Parnpree said Asean members who attended the retreat agreed to continue their actions based on a five-point consensus for Myanmar to comply with.

Thailand's humanitarian initiative is one of the five points of the consensus, he added.

Asked about Myanmar's action during the meeting, he said Nay Pyi Taw had sent Marlar Than Htaik, the Permanent Secretary of Myanmar Foreign Affairs, to join the meeting.

Mr Parnpree said the Myanmar representative welcomed this approach to humanitarian assistance and told the meeting that Myanmar is ready to support such a process.

He said Myanmar also welcomed Asean's decision to have an AHA centre observing the process.

Saleumxay Kommasith, the Lao foreign minister, said Asean wanted to engage with Myanmar as it is an integral part of Asean, adding that the 10-member bloc has been following the five-point consensus as the main reference for addressing the crisis.

As Myanmar had sent non-political representatives, he said it was an optimistic sign that engagement has been working.

"I think this time is probably the light at the end of the tunnel. The more we engage with Myanmar, the more understanding we have of the situation," Mr Saleumxay said.

"So we continue to welcome the participation of Myanmar's non-political representation. I think that Asean's effort so far has produced small but positive signs in engaging with Myanmar," he said.

At the same time, when the press asked about the humanitarian assistance corridor that Thailand had been actively engaging with Myanmar, he said that humanitarian assistance is one of the five-point consensus the Asean's leaders have adopted.

"This is an area that we have made progress on in Myanmar," he added.

With Laos being the ASEAN chair, he said his nation will try its best to support humanitarian assistance initiatives within the agreed-upon five-point consensus.

"In this regard, we welcome the Thai government's efforts talking with relevant Myanmar agencies to try to create a humanitarian corridor where support and assistance can be provided to Myanmar people," he said.

"This is very important. At today's retreat meeting, all Asean members expressed their will to support [the humanitarian assistance] to ensure that we can provide effective assistance to Myanmar people who are victims of this situation," he said.

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