Burma

Myanmar Junta Chief Excluded From US-ASEAN Special Summit

By The Irrawaddy 22 April 2022

Washington will exclude Myanmar junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing from its special summit with leaders of Southeast Asian nations, because the regime has failed to make progress on a peace plan and has continued to escalate violence against the Myanmar people.

United States President Joe Biden will host the leaders of member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington on May 12 and 13 for a US-ASEAN Special Summit to demonstrate the US’s enduring commitment to the regional bloc, according to the White House.

While Myanmar is an ASEAN member, a US State Department spokesperson told The Irrawaddy that Washington supports ASEAN’s decision to invite non-political representatives from Myanmar to high-level ASEAN events in the absence of progress on the Five-Point Consensus agreed by Myanmar and ASEAN last year. That means that junta boss Min Aung Hlaing will be barred from attending the summit.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since last year’s coup. Since then, over 1,700 civilians have been killed, mostly for resisting the military regime.

In the aftermath of the coup and the junta’s brutal crackdowns on anti-regime protesters, ASEAN adopted a peace plan – the Five-Point Consensus – that urged an immediate end to violence in Myanmar. However, the junta has failed to honor the plan and since then only non-political representatives from Myanmar have been invited to ASEAN meetings.

Min Aung Hlaing was excluded from the regional summit in October last year, prompting a furious response from the regime, while the junta’s foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin was sidelined from ASEAN’s meeting this February.

“As we plan for the US-ASEAN Special Summit, we will continue to follow ASEAN’s standard. The regime has failed to make progress on ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus and continues to escalate the violence against the people of Burma,” the State Department spokesperson said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

She added that the US will continue to promote accountability for the coup and the horrific violence, while pressing the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, and allow unhindered humanitarian access to Myanmar.

When asked if Washington has any plans to invite members of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) to the meeting, the spokesperson said: “We will also continue to support the NUG and all those working peacefully to restore Burma’s path to democracy.”

On Tuesday, regime spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun told Radio Free Asia’s Burmese Service that the junta will not send any representative to the US-ASEAN summit next month if only a “non-political appointee is invited”.

The White House said that the Special Summit in May will demonstrate the United States enduring commitment to ASEAN, recognizing its central role in delivering sustainable solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges, and commemorate 45 years of US-ASEAN relations.

It will build on President Biden’s participation in the October 2021 US-ASEAN Summit, which saw the President announce US$102 million in new initiatives to expand US engagement with ASEAN on COVID-19 recovery and health security, fight the climate crisis, stimulate broad-based economic growth, promote gender equality, and deepen people-to-people ties.

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