February 18, 2024
Myanmar Attends ASEAN Meeting After Two-Year Absence Amidst Ongoing Crisis
World Myanmar

Myanmar Attends ASEAN Meeting After Two-Year Absence Amidst Ongoing Crisis

Myanmar Attends ASEAN Meeting After Two-Year Absence Amidst Ongoing Crisis/Reuters

Myanmar Attends ASEAN Meeting After Two-Year Absence Amidst Ongoing Crisis

In a significant development, Myanmar, currently under military rule, participated in a gathering of ASEAN foreign ministers in Laos, marking its first attendance at a high-level meeting of the regional bloc in over two years. Since the 2021 military coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, Myanmar has faced deadly violence and a brutal crackdown on dissent. The ASEAN bloc, comprising 10 member nations, has been leading diplomatic efforts to address the crisis.

Diplomatic Isolation Eased: Myanmar’s Representation at ASEAN Meeting

Myanmar’s attendance at the ASEAN meeting comes after junta leaders were barred from summit and ministerial gatherings since October 2021. The military had previously declined invitations to send “non-political” representatives. However, this time, senior foreign ministry bureaucrat Marlar Than Htike represented Myanmar at the talks. Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith welcomed Myanmar’s participation after the prolonged absence and expressed a cautious optimism for engagement.

ASEAN’s Ongoing Efforts and Challenges: Striving for Diplomatic Solutions

Despite ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis, progress has been limited, with more than 4,400 casualties and nearly 20,000 individuals in detention due to the military crackdown. The regional bloc had agreed on a five-point peace plan in 2021, but Myanmar has yet to implement it. Tensions within ASEAN itself have escalated due to differing approaches among its member nations.

Laos, currently chairing ASEAN, has expressed hope for increased engagement with Myanmar, recognizing the complexity of the crisis. Other ASEAN members, such as Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, have maintained their firm stance on Myanmar. The ongoing need for humanitarian aid to Myanmar was highlighted during the meeting, emphasizing the importance of supporting the country’s people amid the crisis.

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