ASEAN Leaders Meet Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing For Dialogue On Envoy

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the secretary-general and a senior official from Brunei, the bloc’s chair, met with the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the chief of Myanmar’s military Junta on Friday in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw. The meeting was aimed at negotiating a dialogue regarding the ongoing political turmoil and civil disturbances in the Southeast Asian nation.

This comes nearly six weeks after Senior General Hlaing and the six heads of state and three foreign ministers representing ASEAN met in Jakarta, where leaders of 10 nation bloc demanded immediate release of political detainees in Myanmar, and to put an end to violence, military killings, and human rights abuses, but the consensual talks hit a deadlock.

[ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: AP]

On Friday, Brunei Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi had a second sit-down with the chief of Myanmar’s military, State broadcaster MRTV reported citing the diplomatic sources. The talks were held in the backdrop of Indonesia’s foreign minister’s request to the Association of Southeast Asia Nations to immediately appoint a ‘special envoy’ to Myanmar in response to the military Junta’s February 1 coup.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell met with Jakarta’s FM Retno Marsudi where the two-party discussed that the dialogue with Myanmar must immediately start with the help of an ASEAN envoy. “The special envoy appointment must be completed immediately,” Marsudi told reporters. “The safety and well-being of the Myanmar people must continue to be a priority,” she stressed.

[Credit: AP]

[Activists display posters and defaced portraits of Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief. Credit: AP]

Following the high-level meeting, an Indonesian diplomat familiar with the development told The Associated Press that Brunei, which holds ASEAN’s rotating chairmanship, was planning to dispatch a Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof to meet the junta leader for seeking Myanmar’s approval of the ASEAN envoy. Min Aung Hlaing’s stance meanwhile has been ambiguous as he told Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television that the political crisis in Myanmar was “exaggerated’.

NUG objects

The country’s National Unity Government (NUG) held objection to Friday’s meeting telling a state-run press conference that the ASEAN leaders should hold the talks with them instead and not the oppressive military regime. A spokesperson Sa Sa said, that the diplomatic dialogue and issues about the future of the people of Myanmar must include the people of Myanmar, and any talks must be held with the National Unity Government (NUG) that represents civilians.

Any discussions, any meeting about the future of the people of Myanmar must include the people of Myanmar, (their) voices must be heard—National Unity Government spokesperson Sa Sa.

In an interview from an undisclosed location with the Nikkei Asia, the NUG spokesperson had earlier warned that there will be “no compromise” between the civilian National Unity Government of Myanmar and the military regime unless the junta, known as the State Administration Council, met all of four conditions laid out by the Party. NUG demanded that the military junta restored the democratically elected government and parliamentarians from the democratically held November elections.

Sasa’s other demands included the country’s de facto head, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, end to violence against the protesting anti-coup civilians, removal of soldiers from Myanmar streets, and the release of prisons arrested arbitrarily by Junta. Thus far, Myanmar’s military Junta soldiers have killed 750 civilians and bystanders, including children — and have held 4,300 in detention, according to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.