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Indonesia, Thailand seek peaceful solution to Myamar crisis

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Indonesia, Thailand seek peaceful solution to Myamar crisis

Indonesia minister: Thailand has ‘special position’ to play

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (left) talks with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin (right), as Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai listens during their meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Indonesian Foreign Ministry/Reuters photo)
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (left) talks with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin (right), as Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai listens during their meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Indonesian Foreign Ministry/Reuters photo)

BANGKOK/JAKARTA: Myanmar’s military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin met his Indonesian and Thai counterparts Wednesday in Bangkok, where they discussed ways to seek a peaceful solution to the political crisis in Myanmar.

Disclosing to reporters the three-way meeting that took place at Don Mueang airport, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she asked the Myanmar official to “prioritise the safety and wellbeing” of his country’s people.

“The safety and wellbeing of the Myanmarese people must be protected. Their wishes must be heard,” Retno told a virtual press conference upon her arrival in Jakarta from Bangkok.

The minister said she spoke in the 20-minute meeting “about the importance for all Asean member states to respect the principles stipulated in the Asean Charter and I keep delivering this message loudly and clearly.”

She was referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose charter affirms in its preamble the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Retno also stressed to him “the importance to give humanitarian access and visits to (political) detainees.”

After the gathering of the three, the Thai Foreign Ministry said it also insists on supporting peace and stability in Myanmar, and hopes to see the situation improve for the sake of the country’s people.

“It was also a good opportunity for Thailand to directly listen to Myanmar about issues that Myanmar prioritizes, as well as exchanging opinions on issues important to the people for both countries,” said Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat.

The foreign ministers from Thailand and Indonesia also discussed the possibility of holding an informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers in August, which would be the forum’s first in-person gathering in more than a year since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The military-appointed foreign minister of Myanmar was in Thailand on the first visit abroad by a senior Myanmar official since the military seized power in a coup on Feb 1.

His visit came as Indonesia is pushing for a special Asean foreign ministerial session to discuss the Myanmar situation.

According to Retno, Thailand has “a special position” because it has a 2,400-kilometre land border with Myanmar and about 2 million people from Myanmar live in Thailand.

Earlier, during her bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, both sides agreed that Myanmar is an important Asean member and that Asean “can be a platform for constructive dialogue between Myanmar and other Asean member states.”

Before visiting Thailand, Retno had a series of talks in the past few days with the foreign ministers of fellow Asean members Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, as well as with those of Australia, Britain, China, India, Japan and the United States.

She said she will have talks on Thursday with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“This shuttle diplomacy is surely not easy to do during the times of pandemic, but Indonesia has to do it because there are some principles that must be respected…Indonesia chooses not to stay silent…To do nothing is not an option,” she said.

Wunna Maung Lwin replaced Aung San Suu Kyi as foreign minister after the coup. Suu Kyi, who doubled in that capacity while being Myanmar’s de facto leader, remains in detention.

The ouster of the elected government has sparked daily demonstrations across the Southeast Asian nation, with protesters demanding that Suu Kyi and other detained political figures be released. A general strike on Monday shut many businesses.

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