Thailand hosts informal meeting on Myanmar political crisis
BANGKOK (AP) — Three Cabinet ministers from Myanmar attended an informal regional meeting in Thailand’s capital on Thursday to discuss efforts to restore peace in the military-run country, Thai officials said.
“The open-ended informal consultation was meaningful, with ministers engaging in free-flow and proactive discussions,” Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke said.
Representatives from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam also attended the meeting.
There was no indication that the talks made any progress toward resolving Myanmar’s crisis or in facilitating more engagement with its generals.
Myanmar’s military government is shunned by many nations for seizing power and violently suppressing opposition to its rule, but neighboring Thailand has remained on good terms with the generals and refrained from serious criticism.
The meeting came a day after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution demanding an immediate end to violence in Myanmar and urging its military rulers to restore democratic institutions and release all “arbitrarily detained” prisoners, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The council voted 12-0 on Wednesday’s resolution, with China, India and Russia abstaining.
Myanmar’s army seized power in February last year and cracked down on widespread protests. After security forces used lethal force against peaceful demonstrators, opponents of military rule took up arms. Some U.N. experts have characterized the country’s current situation as a civil war.
The military’s actions caused many nations to ostracize the ruling generals and impose political and economic sanctions on them.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, has sought to promote a five-point peace plan. Myanmar’s military rulers initially agreed to the plan but then made little effort to implement it.
ASEAN subsequently declared that Myanmar was not welcome to send members of its military government to the regional grouping’s meetings because of its failure to cooperate with the plan.
Kanchana said Thursday’s informal meeting was held in Bangkok on the sidelines of Thai-Myanmar bilateral talks. She said it did not include any representatives from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, the three ASEAN members most critical of Myanmar’s military.
“The consultation was a non-ASEAN meeting but intended to complement ASEAN’s ongoing collective efforts to find a peaceful political resolution for the situation in Myanmar,” Kanchana said in a statement.
Those attending from Myanmar included Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Kan Zaw, and Minister for International Cooperation Ko Ko Hlaing.
Myanmar’s foreign ministry said in a statement that its delegation “cordially exchanged views on the matters of Myanmar’s cooperation with ASEAN for the implementation of the ASEAN five-point consensus” and other matters. It also reiterated its defense of the military government’s actions.