Thailand justifies talks with Myanmar as key ASEAN members stay away

  • Thailand on 20 Jun justified hosting talks aimed at re-engaging with Myanmar’s shunned military, saying dialogue was necessary to protect its border with the strife-torn country, even as top diplomats of key Southeast Asian neighbours stayed away.
  • Myanmar’s generals have been barred from high-level meetings of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since they seized power in a 2021 coup and unleashed violence on those who challenged their takeover.
  • But Thailand’s outgoing military-backed government invited ASEAN foreign ministers, including that of Myanmar, to discuss a proposal for the bloc to “fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders’ level”, according to an invitation seen by Reuters and verified by sources.
  • “We suffer more than others because Thailand has more than 3,000-km shared land border as well as a maritime border,” Prayuth told reporters. “That is why the talks are necessary. It is not about taking sides.” His foreign minister, Don Pramudwinai, earlier said Myanmar’s crisis was creating refugees problems and hitting trade hard.
  • Myanmar’s junta-appointed foreign minister, Than Swe, was due to join the talks. The foreign ministers of Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia did not attend, with some sending junior representation. Other than Myanmar and host Thailand, Laos was the only country to send its top diplomat.

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