SINGAPORE: ASEAN Foreign Ministers have been briefed by Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on recent developments in Myanmar's Rakhine state, at an informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Yangon on Monday (Dec 19).
"The ministers had an open, frank and constructive discussion on the complex situation there, including the provision of humanitarian aid," said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
In a Facebook post after the meeting, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the long-standing issue in Rakhine "will take time, mutual trust, goodwill and determination to resolve." He added that the ministers discussed how ASEAN can best assist Myanmar in seeking "a viable and long-term solution for the benefit of all the affected communities in Rakhine state."
Aung San Suu Kyi and Vivian Balakrishnan at an informal meeting in Yangon, Myanmar with ASEAN Foreign Ministers to discuss the developments in Rakhine state. (Photo: Vivian Balakrishnan/Facebook)
The crisis in Rakhine has drawn rare criticism from within ASEAN. Malaysia, in particular, has been vocal about Myanmar's handling of violence and alleged abuses in the state. On Monday, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said progress in improving the human rights of the Rohingya people in Rakhine state had been "rather slow".
"We believe that the situation is now of a regional concern and should be resolved together," Mr Anifah Aman told his ASEAN counterparts.
Myanmar's military and the government have rejected allegations by residents and human rights groups that civilians have been killed, gang raped or had their homes torched.
In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia earlier this month, Ms Suu Kyi said she is committed to making the situation better but called for understanding from the international community.
“But I would appreciate it so much if the international community would help us to maintain peace and stability and to make progress in building better relations between the two communities instead of always drumming up calls for, well, for bigger fires of resentment, if you like,” she said in the interview.