ASEAN leaders condemn attack on aid convoy in Myanmar

Labuan Bajo, May 10 (BNA) Southeast Asian leaders have condemned the attack on the aid convoy arranged by the regional group for the displaced in Myanmar, calling for an immediate end to the violence and the military government’s compliance with the peace plan. .

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered in the picturesque port city of Labuan Bajo in southern Indonesia at the start of a two-day summit. Their host, President Joko Widodo, called for unity amid global economic headwinds and great-power rivalry plaguing the region, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The 10-nation bloc has come under international pressure to effectively address the crisis in Myanmar. But ASEAN members appear divided on how to proceed, with some recommending easing punitive measures aimed at ousting Myanmar’s generals and inviting top diplomats and officials to high-level summit meetings. An internal report by the league stated that “the solitude time served its purpose”.

Over the weekend, a convoy bringing aid to displaced villagers and carrying Indonesian and Singaporean diplomats came under fire in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state. A security team with the convoy returned fire and a vehicle was damaged, but there were no casualties, state television MRTV reported.

Indonesia, which chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, had arranged the aid delivery after a long-delayed assessment.

“We condemn the attack and stressed that the perpetrators must be held accountable,” the ASEAN leaders said in a joint statement.

For the second year, Myanmar’s top general has not been invited to the summit. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing led the military to seize power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021, plunging the country into civil war and becoming the most serious crisis in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since its founding in 1967.

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The ASEAN leaders said they were “deeply concerned by the ongoing violence in Myanmar and urged an immediate cessation of all forms of violence and the use of force to create an environment conducive to safe and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance and inclusive national dialogues.”

However, during the foreign ministers’ talks before the summit, some suggested that the group re-engage Myanmar’s military-led State Administration Council and “bring Myanmar back to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Summits,” noting that the time of isolation had served its purpose, according to the ASEAN report. It did not specify Countries pushing for more leniency with Myanmar despite international outrage against continued military attacks in the country.

The report stated that the ASEAN proposal to bring Myanmar back into the fold had been “referenced”, hinting that it had not received the full approval of all the ministers.

The ministerial talks stressed that the Myanmar crisis should not affect ASEAN’s progress in building a regional community, said the report, which cited one observation that there would be no near-term solution to the Myanmar crisis.

“There was also the observation that ASEAN may be suffering from Myanmar fatigue, which may distract ASEAN from the larger goals of ASEAN community-building,” the report said. “Therefore, patience, flexibility and creativity are required because there will be no quick solution to the crisis.”

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