Asean ministers to hold emergency meeting on Myanmar

Asean ministers to hold emergency meeting on Myanmar

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces, delivers his speech at the IX Moscow conference on international security in Moscow on June 23 this year. (Reuters photo)
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces, delivers his speech at the IX Moscow conference on international security in Moscow on June 23 this year. (Reuters photo)

Asean foreign ministers will hold an emergency online meeting Friday to discuss military-ruled Myanmar, including the member country's representation at a summit meeting late this month, Asean sources have said.

The ministers are expected to consider a proposal from some member countries that Myanmar's military leader not be invited to the Asean summit meeting, while also repeating their calls for the military government to accept a special Asean envoy.

Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia proposed at a high-level Asean meeting last Friday that Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who led a coup in February that ousted the elected government under civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, not be allowed to participate in the summit, the sources said.

Instead, Myanmar's military-appointed foreign minister or a senior official could participate in the leaders' meeting, the sources said.

The United States is urging some Asean member countries to take a firm stance toward the Myanmar military, which used force against anti-coup protesters in the days and weeks after seizing power, another Asean source said.

Last week, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres postponed a scheduled regular meeting with Asean foreign ministers. According to the same source, it was due to Guterres' dissatisfaction with the military government's official status in the grouping.

Erywan Yusof, Brunei's second foreign minister and Asean's special envoy on Myanmar, told a press conference on Oct 6 that there was still no consensus among Asean countries on the issue of Myanmar's representation at the summit.

The envoy said Asean was also consulting with its so-called dialogue partners, such as China, Japan and the United States, on the issue. Asean and those countries usually hold related meetings when its leaders meet for a summit.

Mr Erywan, who is supposed to mediate dialogue between all sides in Myanmar's political turmoil as part of his mandate as special envoy, presented Myanmar's military government in late September with his plan to visit the country. The plan included dialogue with the ousted democratic camp.

While Mr Erywan tried to arrange for the visit to take place on or around Tuesday, the plan fell through after the military government did not approve of meetings except those with political figures close to it.

A diplomatic source in Southeast Asia said that while negotiations are still ongoing, dialogue with all sides remains the principle.

Appointed as Asean's special envoy in August, Erywan has held consultations with Myanmar's military government on the implementation of a five-point consensus that was agreed at an Asean summit in April in Jakarta.

The consensus calls for an immediate stop to violence as well as for constructive dialogue to be started among all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the Myanmar people. It also says an Asean special envoy shall facilitate mediation of the dialogue process.

Mr Erywan on Tuesday issued a statement reiterating his commitment to "making a visit to Myanmar, and to be accepted to have access to all parties concerned in order to fulfil his role as mandated in the Five-Point Consensus".

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