SINGAPORE: Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed on the need for an immediate stop to the violence in Myanmar after an emergency meeting in Jakarta on Saturday (Apr 24).
The meeting, chaired by Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, was also attended by Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.
This is the general's first foreign trip since the Feb 1 coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar's crackdown on anti-coup protests has left more than 700 people dead.
According to a statement from Brunei, the current chair of ASEAN, leaders reached a consensus on five points - ending violence, constructive dialogue among all parties, the appointment of a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate dialogue, the provision of humanitarian assistance and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar.
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"We, as an ASEAN family, had a close discussion on the recent developments in Myanmar and expressed our deep concern on the situation in the country, including reports of fatalities and escalation of violence," said the statement.
"We acknowledged ASEAN’s positive and constructive role in facilitating a peaceful solution in the interest of the people of Myanmar and their livelihoods," it added.
"We also heard calls for the release of all political prisoners including foreigners."
FIVE POINTS OF CONSENSUS
Among the points of consensus, ASEAN leaders called for an "immediate cessation of violence" in Myanmar, adding that all parties shall exercise "utmost restraint".
They also agreed to start a constructive dialogue among all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people of Myanmar.
"Third, a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair shall facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN," the statement read.
"Fourth, ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management. Fifth, the special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned."
The ASEAN meeting is the first coordinated international effort to ease the crisis in Myanmar.
General Min Aung Hlaing had earlier told the meeting that he was not opposed to a visit by an ASEAN delegate to help resolve the crisis.
During the meeting, the leaders also discussed ASEAN's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and Myanmar's continued efforts to address the situation in Rakhine state, including its repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh.