Oct 14 (Reuters) – Southeast Asian foreign ministers will discuss the exclusion of Myanmar’s board chief Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming regional summit at a meeting on Friday, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have strongly criticized the inaction of the Myanmar military government on a five-point plan it agreed with the bloc in April, focused on dialogue between all parties, humanitarian access and the end of hostilities. .
The previously unscheduled virtual meeting on Friday will be hosted by current ASEAN President Brunei, according to sources based in ASEAN member countries, which included a diplomat and another government official.
Myanmar’s military spokesman Zaw Min Tun did not respond to calls seeking comment on the meeting. Brunei’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Erywan Yusof, the bloc’s special envoy to Myanmar, confirmed last week that some members had been “deep in discussions” about not inviting the coup leader to the virtual summit on October 26-28.
He said the board’s lack of commitment to the five-point process was “tantamount to backtracking.” Erywan’s office declined to comment on Friday’s meeting.
Myanmar, with a long history of military dictatorship and international accusations of systematic human rights abuses, has been ASEAN’s most sensitive subject since the group was formed in 1967, testing the limits of its unity and policy of not interference.
Erywan said this week that he was in consultations with the parties in Myanmar, does not take sides or take political positions and expects a visit.
In a statement Thursday night, the board’s foreign ministry said the envoy had proposed a visit this week but requested to meet with “some specific people,” a request that the army rejected.
Zaw Min Tin, the spokesman for the board, said earlier that the envoy would not be able to meet with the leader of the deposed civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, because she is accused of crimes. read more
Myanmar was willing to allow the envoy to meet with people “from legally existing political parties” and should have accepted the revised schedule “to build trust between the special envoy and the country in question,” the statement from the Foreign Ministry said.
The United Nations, the United States and China, among others, have supported ASEAN’s efforts to find a diplomatic solution. But pressure on ASEAN has increased in recent months, with some critics calling for tougher measures to respond to Myanmar’s stubbornness.
More than 1,100 people have died since the February 1 coup, according to the United Nations, many during a crackdown by security forces against strikes and protests allied with the overthrown Suu Kyi government.
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur and Tom Allard in Jakarta; Additional information from Ain Bandial in Bandar Seri Begawan; Written by Martin Petty; Edited by William Mallard and Mark Heinrich
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