11 July 2024

Thailand has invited interested members of ASEAN to join an open-ended consultative meeting on the situation in Myanmar on December 22nd.

The informed source, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorised to speak, said that the meeting is not an ASEAN meeting. “It is a Thai initiative to update and exchange views informally among colleagues interested in and affected by the Myanmar quagmire,” said the source.

The source said that Thailand’s neighbouring countries have confirmed their attendance. “These countries are directly and indirectly impacted by the crisis in Myanmar,” he said, without elaboration as to how many ASEAN members willjoin the consultation. Some of the countries said that they could not attend due to the year-end activities.

With the Cambodian chairmanship ending on December 31stand the ASEAN special envoy, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sophon, deciding to skip his third planned visit to Nay Pyi Taw, the source added that the time is ripe to keep those who are interested in the loop, as the new ASEAN chair prepares take up the task.

He pointed out that the idea to hold a non-ASEAN meeting is nothing new, as Thailand is eager to find a common solution to the conflict, as it is the neighbour most affected by the current situation. In addition, at the recent ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, Bangkok proposed a 1.5 track meeting, an unofficial interaction between official representatives of stakeholders.

After April 2021, the ASEAN leaders decided to bar Myanmar from ASEAN-related meetings. After the ASEAN-related summit in Phnom Penh, the bloc’s leaders reviewed and tightened their 5-point consensus and pressed the military junta to comply without delay. This week’s non-ASEAN gathering will allow Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin to join the informal discussions with other colleagues, without the restriction imposed by the decision made by April 2021.

Thailand’s initiative comes as the US Congress has upgraded its Burma Act 2022, to allow the US government to provide non-lethal assistance to the National Unity Government, People Defence’s Forces and Ethnic Armed Organisations.

“As a key member of ASEAN, Thailand also needs to look at the broader regional implications to ensure peace and stability in the region, just as it did in the Cambodian conflict,” he said.

After the coup in Myanmar in February 2020, Thailand held consultations, both officially and informally, with ASEAN dialogue partners, including those who share borders with Myanmar, in search for the best solutions to the current crisis. Thailand also plans to invite these countries for consultations,to synergise their efforts to return normality to Myanmar and fulfil the inspirations of its people.