Indonesian, Singaporean foreign ministers discuss Myanmar issue

Jakarta Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi held talks with her Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan in Singapore on Thursday to discuss the latest developments in Myanmar and steps to address the political conflict in the country.

“The two ministers agreed that ASEAN can play an important role in facilitating constructive dialog and (help) Myanmar return to normalcy and stability,” Singapore’s Foreign Ministry noted in a written statement on Thursday.

At the meeting, Marsudi and Balakrishnan discussed steps that ASEAN may take to respond to the situation in Myanmar, including encouraging dialog involving all stakeholders, including partner countries, according to the statement.

To this end, both foreign ministers encouraged the ASEAN to hold a ministerial-level informal meeting soon to accommodate member countries’ views on the issue.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Balakrishnan urged all parties in Myanmar to exercise restraint and ease tensions.

“Live bullets may not be fired at unarmed civilians in any situation,” Balakrishnan emphasized.

The two foreign ministers also expressed concern over developments in the situation in Myanmar following a military coup in Naypyitaw on Feb 1, 2021.

“The two hope that all parties would prioritize dialog to find a peaceful resolution and (achieve) national reconciliation in Myanmar, including returning to a democratically elected government,” Singapore’s Foreign Ministry stated.

At the meeting, the two foreign ministers also discussed other issues of mutual concern, including exploring the possibility of collaboration to address the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting with Singapore’s foreign minister took place a day after Marsudi met with Brunei Darussalam Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof in Bandar Seri Begawan on Wednesday (Feb 17).

At the meeting, Marsudi and Yusof discussed ASEAN’s role in helping Myanmar return to a democratic transition.

Marsudi affirmed that ASEAN’s assistance for Myanmar must respect the principles of non-intervention, constructive engagement, and prioritizing the safety and welfare of the Myanmar people as mandated by the ASEAN Charter.

At a meeting with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Jakarta on February 5, 2021, Indonesian President Joko Widodo proposed an ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting to discuss the situation in Myanmar “as one family”.

The Indonesian and Malaysian foreign ministers conveyed the proposal to Brunei Darussalam, which is the ASEAN chair for 2021.

Brunei Darussalam received the proposal and held a virtual meeting with Myanmar on February 11, 2021.

The Myanmar military seized power after detaining the country’s political figures from the National League for Democracy (NLD), including Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint as well as several pro-democracy and human rights activists.

Shortly after seizing power, the military imposed a one-year state of emergency that puts executive, legislative, and judicial powers under the control of Military Chief General Min Aung Hlaing.

Two days after the coup, the Myanmar police officially arrested Suu Kyi on charges of importing illegal communications equipment, while President Myint was arrested for allegedly violating the disaster management law.

Source: Antara News