Thailand to host Myanmar junta for talks on post-coup crisis

AFP , Sunday 18 Jun 2023

Thailand's foreign ministry said it will host talks with Myanmar's junta and neighbouring countries on Monday, aiming to find a way out of the post-coup crisis.

Don Pramudwinai
File Photo: Thailand s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai. AFP


Myanmar has been in turmoil since a February 2021 putsch ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with swathes of the country ravaged by fighting between the junta and its opponents.

Diplomatic efforts to halt the bloodshed have so far proved fruitless.

Thailand's foreign ministry will host an "informal meeting" of neighbouring countries on Monday as part of efforts to "resolve the situation in Myanmar peacefully," according to a statement.

"High-level" representatives from Laos, India, China, Brunei and Vietnam were expected to attend, it added, without giving further details.

Authorities in Myanmar and Cambodia have confirmed their foreign ministers will attend the talks.

AFP has contacted China's foreign affairs ministry for comment.

The talks come as peace initiatives by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) languish in the doldrums, with the bloc hamstrung by its charter principles of consensus and non-interference in members' affairs.

The 10-country bloc has barred Myanmar's junta from top-level summits for failing to implement a peace plan agreed upon more than two years ago.

ASEAN's last leaders' summit, held in May, ended without any significant progress on the peace plan, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo warning that the bloc risks becoming irrelevant.

A Thai foreign ministry letter proposing the talks and seen by AFP said it was "time for ASEAN to fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders' level".

The foreign ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia, among the junta's harshest critics within the ASEAN, will not attend Monday's meeting, according to officials.

On Friday, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that conditions were not yet right for ASEAN to open high-level talks with Myanmar on the country's political situation.

The "National Unity Government" in Myanmardominated by lawmakers from Suu Kyi's government who are working to overturn the coup, slammed Thailand's invitation to the junta.

"Inviting the illegitimate junta to this discussion will not contribute to the resolution of Myanmar's political crisis," it said.

More than 3,600 civilians have been killed in the Myanmar military's crackdown since the putsch, according to a local monitoring group, while the United Nations says more than one million people have been displaced by violence.

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