No Major Decision on Myanmar Following ASEAN Meeting

Photo: MFA.IC

PHNOM PENH – Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers have reaffirmed their determination to help Myanmar and called to find a peaceful solution to the crisis as soon as possible.

In a dedicated meeting, held in Jakarta on Oct. 27, they deliberated on ways to better implement the “Five Point Consensus”, a pact that was agreed upon in April 2021 by the ASEAN member states – including Mynamar – to try to bring back peace in the country.

While the consensus has been largely ignored by the Myanmar junta, today’s meeting reaffirmed further strengthening its implementation through concrete, practical and time-bound actions to end violence.

Foreign ministers have also discussed key recommendations to be submitted for the consideration of the ASEAN’s leaders at the upcoming 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in November 2022.

No Myanmar representative was present at the meeting.

“Undoubtedly, the situation on the ground remains critical and fragile, and this is not due to the lack of commitments and efforts on the part of ASEAN and the Special Envoy, but because of the complexity and difficulty of Myanmar’s decades-long protracted conflicts, which has been further exacerbated by the current political crisis," the statement, which was issued following the meeting, read.

Prak Sokhonn, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar, stressed that Cambodia remains strongly committed to advancing the three priorities that it has set out since the beginning of its Chairmanship.

Those are to end or reduce violence, facilitate humanitarian assistance delivery and create an enabling environment for political dialogue among all parties concerned.

While Sokonn recalled the commitment of all ASEAN Foreign Ministers, he stressed that the extent of their success will “depend on the first-hand parties to fully and sincerely engage among themselves in pursuit of common interests and a shared future.”

After the meeting, he confirmed to Channel News Asia’s reporter that his third visit to Myanmar could only happen after the ASEAN Summit, after country leaders have decided the next steps on Mynamar.

In its first two visits, the Special Envoy was denied meeting with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“ASEAN should not be discouraged, but even more determined to help Myanmar to bring about a peaceful solution the soonest as possible,” the statement added.

In recent weeks, violence has surged in Myanmar, with hundreds of homes being torched in the central parts of the country, a bombing happening in the notorious Insein prison in Yangon, and a massive air strike that killed more than 50 people in the eastern Kachin state.

Local nonprofits estimate that more than 2,300 civilians have died since the military takeover in February 2021.

Ahead of today’s meeting, top U.S. diplomat for East Asia Daniel Kritenbrink said the junta was leading “the complete destruction of all the progress made over the last decade” as the nation transitioned to democracy.

Kritenbrink added that the United States has “great respect” for ASEAN but said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during talks in August, voiced “frustration” on the lack of forward movement on Myanmar.

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