Thailand proposes peace plan
text size

Thailand proposes peace plan

3 Asean members to ease Myanmar crisis

A total of 658 refugees who escaped fighting between Myanmar troops and ethnic resistance groups return to Myawaddy on Wednesday, marking the last batch of returnees from the temporary shelter in Tak. (Photo: Maesod Radio Thailand)
A total of 658 refugees who escaped fighting between Myanmar troops and ethnic resistance groups return to Myawaddy on Wednesday, marking the last batch of returnees from the temporary shelter in Tak. (Photo: Maesod Radio Thailand)

Thailand has proposed having three or more Asean member countries work in unison to engage with Myanmar's military junta to ease the crisis and bring about peace in the conflict-torn nation while remaining firm on its stance on humanitarian assistance and promoting peace.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spoksman Nikorndej Balankura, said on Wednesday Thailand has coordinated via Laos, which is the current Asean, chair to hold what it calls Asean "Troika" and "Troika plus" meetings to restore peace in Myanmar.

The Asean Troika is a community body made up of foreign ministers of the previous, present and future chair countries of the bloc [Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia, respectively]. The "plus" refers to other Asean members who are interested in facilitating peace or are concerned about the crisis.

Mr Nikorndej said it is likely the proposed meetings will be held in Thailand and reiterated the country's readiness to broker negotiations between Myanmar's junta and resistance groups.

He said the ongoing conflict is not between Thailand and Myanmar and the country's stance on this crisis is clear that the Thai government will provide humanitarian assistance to all groups affected by the fighting on the principles of national security, international relations and human rights.

He stressed that the conflict affects every country, not just Thailand, which shares a border with Myanmar.

"Thailand is an advocate for peace, so it is important for us to emphasise our position as an active promoter of peace. This can be seen from our readiness to broker negotiations among parties in the Myanmar conflict. If they agree, we're ready to," he said.

According to Mr Nikorndej, given the fact that most of the refugees have returned to Myanmar, the situation is assessed as not being highly critical, and the effects on Thailand remain limited and mostly affect border trade, which is expected to be temporary.

The government committee in charge of the situation along the Thai-Myanmar border, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, is considering setting up sub-committees with the National Security Council (NSC) to make the appointments.

He noted that the situation along the Thai-Myanmar border in the past 48 hours had improved as local people reported no gunfire. However, the committee would keep its eye on the situation which is fluid.

On Mr Parnpree's visit to Tak's Mae Sot district on Tuesday afternoon, he said there has been no fighting at the 2nd Thailand-Myanmar Friendship bridge since Sunday and most of the refugees who fled the fighting over the weekend have already returned.

He said the most important thing is that Thai locals are reassured about measures being implemented by the government to mitigate the Myanmar crisis' impacts on their livelihoods.

"Our agencies have response plans and people can rest assured that we are giving top priority to their safety," he said. Asked when the checkpoints in Mae Sot will reopen, he said they are expected to reopen soon as all sides in Myanmar are aware that the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship bridge is a key border trade route.

Meanwhile, the last group of 658 Myanmar people who took refuge in Mae Sot on Wednesday voluntarily agreed to return after the situation in Myawaddy improved, according to local authorities.

They were given necessities including medicines before they crossed the Moei River back to Myawaddy. They were seen off by local officials and staff from aid organisations.

According to the latest reports, the checkpoint at the 1st Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge reopened on Wednesday, and junta troops that retreated to the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge had returned to their barracks at the 275th infantry battalion.

According to Reuters on Wednesday, a Myanmar rebel group had withdrawn from Myawaddy following a junta counteroffensive.

A spokesman for the Karen National Union (KNU) said the "temporary retreat" from the town of Myawaddy came after the return of junta soldiers to the vital strategic area that is a conduit for annual foreign trade of more than $1 billion (around 36 billion baht).

Nikorndej: Thailand the likely venue

Do you like the content of this article?