ASEAN reiterates the need for a unified response to resolve the crisis and end the violence amid Thai attempts to reconnect with the generals.
Myanmar said Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader-elect who was arrested by the military and subjected to a series of secret trials when she took power in February 2021, is in “good health”.
In a brief statement published in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on Friday, Chief Information Officer Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun confirmed that Thailand’s outgoing Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai traveled to Myanmar on July 9 and met Aung San Suu Kyi, adding that she was present “good health”.
It is the first time since the coup that the military has allowed a foreign diplomat or politician to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, despite repeated requests.
The 78-year-old is being held in a jail in the capital after he was found guilty of crimes ranging from corruption to breach of official secrets in a series of closed trials widely seen as a sham.
Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun, head of the State Administrative Council’s information team, called the meeting between Don and Aung San Suu Kyi “free” and said it lasted 90 minutes. The putschist leadership describes itself as the SAC.
“We are not aware of the detailed conversations between them,” the statement said.
Don traveled to Naypyidaw just days before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers were due to discuss the deepening crisis at a meeting in Jakarta, and raised concerns about recent efforts by Thailand’s outgoing, military-backed government to encourage a resumption of the Advance engagements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) outlaw generals.
Briefing ministers in Jakarta following his trip, Don said the visit was “a rapprochement between the friends of Myanmar who want a peaceful solution”.
ASEAN, which Myanmar joined in 1997 under a previous military administration, has barred the country from its major summits because generals failed to implement a five-point consensus (5PC) agreed in April 2021 with coup leader Min Aung Hlang to end the violence fight and solve the crisis.
The plan envisages “constructive dialogue”, an immediate end to the violence, the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy, a visit by an ASEAN delegation to meet all affected parties and the provision of humanitarian assistance.
ASEAN officials have not been allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi despite repeated requests, and the crisis in the country has only worsened since the consensus was reached.
At the end of their meeting on Thursday, ASEAN foreign ministers commended Thailand’s briefing “about its activities in Myanmar” and said that “a number” of states viewed Don’s visit as a “positive development”.
However, it reiterated that the 5PC remains the basis of its diplomatic initiatives to resolve the crisis and “strongly” condemned the ongoing unrest.
The joint communiqué issued late in the evening called on “all stakeholders to take concrete action to stop indiscriminate violence immediately, denounce any escalation and create an enabling environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and an inclusive national dialogue.”
In a separate statement, Malaysia – which has called for a tough crackdown on Myanmar along with Singapore and current leader Indonesia – stressed the need for unity within the group.
“All efforts must be based on the 5PC and ASEAN-approved processes and mechanisms and should not be done alone,” said Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir.