11 July 2024

Jakarta (Agencies) — Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are meeting in Jakarta today to lay the groundwork for the group’s summit in Cambodia next month, with the focus on how to deal with the crisis in Myanmar.

The foreign ministers are expected to discuss steps needed to be taken in the face of the Myanmar military junta’s refusal to comply with the grouping’s so-called five-point consensus.  ASEAN leaders are also increasingly frustrated by the escalating violence in the strife-torn country which has been under military rule since February last year.

The special meeting being held at the ASEAN Secretariat was proposed by Indonesia during the foreign ministers’ informal talks in New York last month.  The Jakarta Post quoted Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi as saying that a seat would be reserved for a non-political representative from Myanmar for today’s meeting, despite the junta’s continued refusal to send anyone.

“We still invite Myanmar, but if it decides to send no one, their chair and flag will still be there. There is no need for us to be held hostage by the situation,” Retno said.

The special meeting is taking place just two weeks before the ASEAN leaders will meet for a summit in Phnom Penh. In a snub to the Myanmar military government, its leader Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing was not invited to the summit.

ASEAN has a longstanding policy of non-interference in members’ internal affairs, but some have proposed tougher actions against the junta in Myanmar to be considered at the summit.