Eight countries and the top EU diplomat yesterday urged the Burmese junta to let a regional special envoy meet ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The call comes as concerns grow over the military government’s commitment to a “five-point consensus” agreed with regional bloc ASEAN to defuse the bloody crisis that erupted after Myanmar’s Feb. 1 coup.
ASEAN foreign ministers were to meet virtually last night to debate whether to exclude Burmese Army Senior General Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit over his government’s intransigence.
The military authorities have said they would not allow ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar Erywan Yusof to meet anyone on trial, which includes Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a joint statement, Australia, Canada, East Timor, New Zealand, South Korea, the UK and the US said they are “deeply concerned about the dire situation in Myanmar” and urged Naypyidaw to “engage constructively” with the special envoy.
“We further call on the military to facilitate regular visits to Myanmar by the ASEAN special envoy, and for him to be able to engage freely with all stakeholders,” said the statement, endorsed by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
The last phrase is an apparent reference to the junta refusing Yusof, who is also Brunei’s second minister of foreign affairs, access to Aung San Suu Kyi.
Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah yesterday said Malaysia does not want Min Aung Hlaing at the upcoming ASEAN summit if he fails to honor his commitment to a peace plan.
“This evening we will be looking at the details of the proposed visit,” he told a news conference.
“If there is no real progress then Malaysia’s stand would remain that we do not want the general to be attending the summit. No compromise on that.”
ASEAN members were due to meet virtually on Friday last week, but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked to postpone the meeting at the last minute to avoid signaling recognition of the junta by being in the same online meeting with Burmese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wunna Maung Lwin.
UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Guterres does not want to get ahead of a decision by UN member states on who will sit in Myanmar’s seat at the world body after rival claims were made by the junta and Burmese Ambassador to the UN Kyaw Moe Tun, who was appointed by the elected government.
Myanmar has been one of ASEAN’s most divisive issues since it joined the bloc in 1997 as a military dictatorship lambasted by the West for its iron-fisted rule, testing ASEAN’s unity and denting its international credibility.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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