Friday, September 29th 2023

Key Asean members to skip talks amid criticism

Reuters, Bangkok/The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

Mon Jun 19, 2023 12:00 AM

Thailand's caretaker government was preparing to host talks with the foreign minister of Myanmar's military junta today, a day later than planned, as key Southeast Asian nations signalled they would stay away from the divisive meeting.

Bangkok has been pushing to reengage with Myanmar's generals - who have been locked in conflict with armed opposition militias since seizing power in a 2021 coup - in the face of opposition from other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which has barred the junta from senior level meetings.


Thailand, whose prime minister himself first took power in a coup, sent out an invitation just four days ago to Asean foreign ministers, inviting them to what it said would be an informal meeting set to start yesterday.

The invitation, seen by Reuters and verified by two sources, referenced a proposal at an earlier summit "that it was time for Asean to fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders' level".

Myanmar's junta-appointed Foreign Minister Than Swe was to attend the talks, two sources with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters.

Later yesterday, the Thai foreign ministry released a statement saying the "informal dialogue" would start today. It would not amount to a formal Asean meeting, the ministry said, but would "help support Asean's efforts" to end the violence in Myanmar.

File photo of Thailand's Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai. (Photo: AFP/Pool/Willy Kurniawan)

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