ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet to Address Myanmar Conflict

At the first meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Jakarta on Friday, the conflict in Myanmar was the main topic of discussion. The Indonesian Foreign Minister, who is leading ASEAN this year, reported that member states had open and honest discussions on the matter. ASEAN is pushing for an inclusive dialogue between all parties involved in Myanmar and the ministers talked about it in a straightforward manner.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi held a press conference after the start of a retreat with other ASEAN ministers, excluding Myanmar’s junta leaders. Marsudi stated that the meeting was focused on discussing the situation in Myanmar in an open, comprehensive, and sincere manner, like a family.

Since overthrowing the government in a coup on February 1st two years ago, Myanmar’s junta has caused chaos and violence in the country, and has not carried out the ASEAN peace plan which calls for an end to conflict and the initiation of discussions.

An Indonesian foreign ministry official, Sidharto R. Suryodipuro, said at Friday’s event that while junta leaders have been prohibited from participating in high-level ASEAN meetings, representation at other events would continue to be discussed. Suryodipuro stated that there would be ongoing consultation regarding other meetings, but at the moment, no one has the legitimacy to sit in Myanmar’s seat.

Earlier this week, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced plans to send a senior military general to meet with Myanmar’s junta leaders in an effort to initiate talks about a transition to democracy. The Indonesian government has not disclosed further information about the military envoy, but the president expressed hope for the general to travel as soon as possible.

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