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ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet today, envoy for Myanmar takes priority

Experts say ASEAN is the right entity to take peace talks forward in Myanmar (Photo: IANS)

The Foreign Ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their annual meeting on Monday, with Myanmar taking priority. ASEAN leadership has been under a cloud for not doing enough to resolve the crisis in Myanmar–one of its key member states.

The ministers have to select a special envoy for Myanmar so that talks to bring about a peaceful resolution can be held again. Myanmar, after its coup on February 1 this year, hovers on the brink of a civil war with relentless pro-democracy protests.

ASEAN was talking to the Myanmar military junta to find a solution to the impasse in April, and had agreed to the appointment of a special envoy which was suitable to the military government.

Just a day earlier, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing–the architect of the military coup, had again said that his government would accept the special envoy to find out a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The military government has also given acceptance to Virasakdi Futrakul, former Thai deputy foreign minister. Japanese news agency Kyodo, quoting sources says: "ASEAN sources said Virasakdi has become the strongest candidate but no decision has been made as Indonesia has opposed the selection".

The other nominees include Hassan Wirajuda, a former Indonesian foreign minister, and Razali Ismail, a Malaysian.

The selection of a special envoy by ASEAN, and the envoy's acceptance by the Myanmar military, is paramount as suspicion hogs peace talks between various groups in the country. The military too has not shown flexibility in talking to the pro-democracy groups and continues to follow the cases against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Even though the peace process initiated by ASEAN has been delayed by months, it has found acceptance among numerous countries like India, Japan and even the UN. The five-point consensus for Myanmar was put forth by ASEAN in its extraordinary summit in Indonesia in April. 

Read More: Myanmar junta leaders may hold elections by August 2023