Asean ‘deeply disappointed’ by limited progress in Myanmar peace plan

PHONM PENH (REUTERS) – South-east Asia’s regional bloc Asean is “deeply disappointed” by the limited progress made by Myanmar’s military rulers in implementing a peace agreement to end the conflict in the country, a communique issued by its foreign ministers said.

The communique on Friday (Aug 5) recommended that the Association of South-east Asian Nations assess the progress on implementing the “five-point consensus” by military authorities in Myanmar “to guide the decision on the next steps”, during the bloc’s summit in November in Bali, Indonesia.

“We reiterated our commitment to peace and stability in the region and expressed Asean’s readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful, and constructive manner, including in the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” the communique said.

“We agreed that the Special Envoy of the Asean Chair on Myanmar shall engage all Myanmar relevant stakeholders at the earliest.”

On the ongoing war in Ukraine, Asean said it continues to reaffirm its respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity.

“We reiterated our call for compliance with international law and the United Nations Charter,” the communique said.

This week’s meeting of Asean’s foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia have “underlined the importance of an immediate cessation of hostilities and the creation of an enabling environment for the peaceful resolution of conflict”.

The communique added: “We supported the efforts of the United Nations secretary-general in the search for a peaceful solution. We also called for the facilitation of rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, and for the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel, and persons in vulnerable situations.”

On the Covid-19 pandemic, Asean said it remains concerned with the continued human cost and suffering as well as the profound socio-economic impact of the pandemic. It also acknowledged “the ongoing whole-of-government efforts of Asean member states as well as a proactive whole-of-community approach by Asean in advancing its collective efforts to respond to, and recover swiftly from, Covid-19”.

The communique also said that Asean member states recognised the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic through widespread supply chain disruptions, job losses, and demand shocks.

“We reiterated our commitment to keeping our markets open for trade and investment, promoting and accelerating trade and investment facilitation initiatives, enhancing transparency, and refraining from imposing unnecessary non-tariff measures to ensure supply chain connectivity, particularly for food, medicines, medical supplies, and other essential products,” it said.