Published: 19:06, February 6, 2023 | Updated: 19:13, February 6, 2023
ASEAN ministers discuss Myanmar at Jakarta gathering
By Yang Han

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (center) delivers her opening speech during the 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council meeting, in Jakarta, on Feb 3, 2023. (BAY ISMOYO / AFP)

HONG KONG – Myanmar was a key focus of discussions between ASEAN foreign ministers in Jakarta late last week as they reaffirmed their commitment to peacefully resolve the crisis in the Southeast Asian nation.  

As two years have passed since the Myanmar military's taking power in the country, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations called for significant progress in the implementation of the five-point consensus to pave the way for an inclusive national dialogue in Myanmar, said a statement issued after the 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting and ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat held during Feb 3-4.

“We stressed that inclusive national dialogue is key to finding a peaceful resolution to the situation in Myanmar,” the statement said, as the ministers agreed to the implementation of the consensus, seeking to engage all stakeholders to facilitate inclusive dialogue and synergize efforts of ASEAN with that of neighboring countries and the special envoy of the United Nations.

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During the two-day ASEAN ministers’ gathering, foreign ministers discussed key topics including the ASEAN leaders’ review and decision on the implementation of the consensus, which was proposed in April 2021 for achieving a peaceful solution to the Myanmar issue after the military took power in February that year. 

This plan is very important for ASEAN, in particular the chair, as a guidance to address the situation in Myanmar in a united manner.

Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister, Indonesia 

The points are the cessation of violence in Myanmar, constructive dialogue among all parties, the appointment of a special envoy and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar, as well as humanitarian assistance by ASEAN.

During the retreat, an implementation plan of the consensus was proposed by Indonesia, chair of the ASEAN in 2023, and received broad support from all member states, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at a press briefing. 

“This plan is very important for ASEAN, in particular the chair, as a guidance to address the situation in Myanmar in a united manner,” she said. 

Myanmar’s State Administration Council, or SAC, announced a cabinet reshuffle after the country’s state of emergency was extended for six more months on Feb 2, according to Xinhua News Agency

On Feb 3, the SAC also declared martial law in 37 towns of four regions and four states in Myanmar. 

During their Jakarta meeting, the ASEAN ministers acknowledged the complexity and difficulty of the political crisis in Myanmar and that it will take time to reach a long-lasting political settlement, according to a statement by the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

“While cessation of violence and inclusive dialogue are an important step toward enduring peace, urgently building trust among concerned parties is a must,” the statement said, adding that the ministers agreed that engagement with all concerned parties should be intensified in an inclusive and flexible manner, and in accordance with the ASEAN Charter. 

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As with last year when Cambodia chaired ASEAN, only a non-political representative from Myanmar was invited to the ASEAN meeting and the Myanmar government did not send any representative.

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