Myanmar relents, will attend Bangkok meeting - Don

Myanmar relents, will attend Bangkok meeting - Don

Boats of Acehnese fishermen (in front) tow a boat of Rohingya migrants in their boat off the coast near the city of Geulumpang in Indonesia's East Aceh district of Aceh province before being rescued on May 20. (AFP photo)
Boats of Acehnese fishermen (in front) tow a boat of Rohingya migrants in their boat off the coast near the city of Geulumpang in Indonesia's East Aceh district of Aceh province before being rescued on May 20. (AFP photo)

Myanmar reversed course Wednesday, saying it now likely will attend a regional meeting in Bangkok next week set to address the crisis involving thousands of minority Muslims fleeing the Southeast Asian nation by boat.

Thailand's Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai confirmed today that Myanmar has accepted its invitation.

The Myanmar government initially was reluctant to send a representative to the May 29 meeting in Thailand. Last week, Maj Zaw Htay, director of the office of Myanmar's president, says his government will not accept that it is the source of the problem.

Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Thant Kyaw told reporters that "we all have to sit down and we all have to consider how to tackle this problem."

 For decades, the minority Muslim Rohingya have suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. Denied citizenship by national law, they are effectively stateless.

Earlier today, Myanmar for the first time offered to help ease the regional migrant crisis, with state media saying the government "shares concerns" expressed by the international community and is "ready to provide humanitarian assistance to anyone who suffered in the sea".

That marked the most conciliatory statement yet from the Myanmar government, which considers Rohingya to be foreigners from neighbouring Bangladesh and disavows all responsibility for them.

In the last three years, attacks on Rohingya have left hundreds dead and sparked an exodus of an estimated 120,000 people who have boarded human traffickers' boats to flee to other countries.


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