US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decried the actions of Myanmar’s military rulers on Tuesday and urged ASEAN to keep demanding an end to the violence.
“The Myanmar military’s refusal to respect the inalienable rights of the Burmese people and to defend their basic well-being is flatly unacceptable,” Austin said during a lecture in Singapore, the AP news agency reported.
“A military exists to serve its people, not the other way around. And so we call on the Myanmar military to adhere to the ASEAN five-point consensus and to forge a lasting peace,” he added.
The five-point document calls for an immediate end to violence and the start of a dialogue among contending parties, with a special ASEAN envoy mediating in the talks. However, the envoy has yet to be appointed.
Austin said the US would work with partners in the region to urge Myanmar’s military to “move in the right direction” and release civilians it has imprisoned.
The US general is in Southeast Asia visiting key countries and allies including Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam to strengthen relationships.
At a virtual meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers in July, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged his Southeast Asian counterparts to press for an end to the violence in Myanmar, as well as for the release of all political prisoners in the country and a return to democracy.
The Myanmar military regime’s foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, participated in the meeting.
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