Indonesian foreign minister meets Myanmar counterpart in Bangkok after scrapping Naypyitaw visit

SINGAPORE : Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has cancelled her plan to visit Naypyitaw, but met with Myanmar’s military-appointed foreign minister in Thailand on Wednesday (Feb 24).

The Myanmar minister, Mr Wunna Maung Lwin, had flown in to Bangkok for talks on diplomatic efforts by regional grouping Asean, reported Reuters, citing a Thai source.

Thailand’s foreign ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat earlier confirmed that Ms Retno will meet with Mr Wunna. He told reporters: “ We didn’t plan on it but yes.” He did not eleaborate further.

Ms Retno had earlier planned to visit Myanmar, in what would have been the first known trip there by a foreign envoy after the military seized power in a coup on Feb 1.

Speaking in a virtual press conference on Wednesday (Feb 24), Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said the trip was cancelled as it was “not an ideal time”.

He noted that Ms Retno had “let open an option to visit Naypyitaw to work on a solution at the regional level”.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was originally scheduled to fly to Myanmar on Feb 25.PHOTO: REUTERS

However, “after taking into account the current development and following consultation with a number of other Asean countries, this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit to Myanmar”, he added.

Dr Faizasyah did not explain the reasons, nor did he elaborate if the trip would be postponed or scrapped, but said Indonesia would continue to carry out consultation with other Asean countries on the development in Myanmar.

“Indonesia continues to commit to contribute, Indonesia is also committed to pursuing communication with all parties in Myanmar,” he said.

In this image taken from MRTV video Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, left, talks with Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, center, and Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, right, during their meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis gathered pace Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country’s coupmakers to stand down and Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government to be returned to power. (MRTV via AP)

Myanmar’s military ousted the National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leaders to seize power in a coup on Feb 1, sparking mass protests in the country.

A Reuters report, citing sources, on Monday said Indonesia was pushing South-east Asian neighbours to agree on an action plan over Myanmar’s coup that would keep the junta to its promise of holding elections, with monitors to ensure they are fair and inclusive.

Indonesia denied the reports on Tuesday, even as crowds protested in front of the Indonesian embassies in Yangon and Bangkok to demand support for the November 2020 election results.

Dr Faizasyah told The Straits Times that Indonesia did not take the position that there should be a new election in Myanmar.

“We have made our national position clear early on after the military took over of the government and we still stand on that position,” he added.

Ms Retno has been rallying support in South-east Asia for a special meeting on Myanmar. She travelled to Brunei, the current Asean chair, and Singapore last week to exchange views on the ongoing developments in Myanmar.

Following a meeting with her Singapore counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan last Thursday, the two ministers expressed “grave concern” over the situation in Myanmar and supported a proposal to hold an informal Asean ministerial meeting on Myanmar.

They also expressed hope that all parties involved will maintain dialogue and work towards a peaceful resolution and national reconciliation in Myanmar, including a return to its path of democratic transition, according to a statement by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By : Arlina Arshad – THE STRAITS TIMES

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