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India welcomes ASEAN call to end violence in Myanmar

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (center) delivers his press statement after the ASEAN leaders' meeting in Jakarta on Saturday. (AP)Premium
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (center) delivers his press statement after the ASEAN leaders' meeting in Jakarta on Saturday. (AP)

  • This comes after ASEAN leaders at a meeting in Jakarta reached a five-point consensus with Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing
  • India, as a friend of the people of Myanmar, will continue to play a constructive and meaningful role aimed at resolving the current situation in Myanmar, said the Indian foreign ministry

NEW DELHI : India on Sunday said it welcomed a Southeast Asian nations’ led initiative to end violence in Myanmar that has shot up since the military dismissed the government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi in February.

On Saturday, Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN leaders at a meeting in Jakarta, agreed on five points—ending violence, a constructive dialogue among all parties, a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate the dialogue, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar—with Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing. Myanmar is part of the 10 member ASEAN.

On its part, India said: “We welcome the ASEAN initiative on Myanmar agreed to at the ASEAN Summit held on April 24. Our diplomatic engagement with Myanmar will be aimed at strengthening these efforts."

“India, as a friend of the people of Myanmar, will continue to play a constructive and meaningful role aimed at resolving the current situation in Myanmar. India’s support to the democratic process in Myanmar remains steadfast," said the statement by Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi.

According to the statement from ASEAN chair Brunei, the five-point consensus did not mention political prisoners, although the chairman's statement said the meeting "heard calls" for their release. This triggered angry reactions from the opposition in Myanmar.

ASEAN leaders were looking for a commitment from Min Aung Hlaing to restrain his security forces, which have killed 748 people—according to Myanmar’s opposition groups—since a mass civil disobedience movement erupted to challenge the 1 February ouster of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The ASEAN gathering was the first coordinated international effort to ease the crisis in Myanmar, neighbours China, India and Thailand and has been in turmoil since the coup. Besides the protests, deaths and arrests, a nationwide strike has crippled economic activity.

Myanmar's parallel National Unity Government (NUG), comprised of pro-democracy figures, remnants of Suu Kyi's ousted administration and representatives of armed ethnic groups, said it welcomed the consensus reached but added the junta had to be held to its promises.

Besides the junta chief, the leaders of Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei were at the meeting, along with the foreign ministers of Laos, Thailand and the Philippines. The NUG was not invited but spoke privately to some of the participating countries before the meeting.

Reuters contributed to this report

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