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Russia backs ASEAN plan on tackling Myanmar crisis: Foreign minister

Russia strongly supports the Southeast Asian diplomatic effort to end the crisis in Myanmar and has conveyed similar messages to the country's military leadership, its foreign minister said on Tuesday (Jul 6).

Russia backs ASEAN plan on tackling Myanmar crisis: Foreign minister

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with Mongolian Foreign Minister Battsetseg Batmunkh in Moscow on Jun 1, 2021. (File photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

JAKARTA: Russia strongly supports the Southeast Asian diplomatic effort to end the crisis in Myanmar and has conveyed similar messages to the country's military leadership, its foreign minister said on Tuesday (Jul 6).

The five-point consensus agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc should be the basis by which the situation can be resolved, Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Jakarta.

"In our contacts with Myanmar leaders, military leaders, we promote the position of ASEAN which should be, in our view, considered as a basis for resolving this crisis and bring the situation back to normalcy," Lavrov said.

Lavrov will hold virtual talks with his ASEAN counterparts during the visit to Jakarta, Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi said.

READ: Myanmar junta leader thanks Russia for boosting military, report says

READ: Myanmar aims to buy more Russian, Chinese COVID-19 vaccines as cases rise

Lavrov's comments are significant and come amid deepening engagement between Russia and Myanmar's military, as major global powers sanction its businesses and top leaders and call for a global ban on arms sales to the country.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government on Feb 1, unleashing nationwide anger that quickly turned into protests and strikes brutally suppressed by security forces.

Fighting between the army and newly formed militias in several regions has displaced tens of thousands of people.

READ: ASEAN leaders reach consensus on 'immediate cessation' of violence in Myanmar

READ: United Nations calls for halt of weapons to Myanmar

Despite junta leader Min Aung Hlaing agreeing to an ASEAN peace plan reached in April, the military has shown no intent to follow through and has instead reiterated its own, entirely different plan to restore order and democracy.

The ASEAN effort calls for dialogue between all parties, the appointment of a special envoy, greater humanitarian access and an end to violence, but the bloc's most outspoken members, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, have been frustrated by the military's lack of action.

READ: 'Very slow' progress on resolving Myanmar crisis is 'disappointing', says Vivian Balakrishnan

READ: Thailand concerned at Myanmar violence

Though it has expressed concern about the violence in Myanmar, Russia, a key supplier of arms and training to its military, is among only a few countries that have recognised the junta and has sent top officials to the country to meet the generals.

Russia last month welcomed Min Aung Hlaing and a military delegation for an extended visit to Moscow, during which he gave numerous speeches and media interviews and was bestowed with an honorary professorship.

Lavrov also discussed with Retno an agreement on health cooperation and the possibility of jointly producing vaccines.

Source: Reuters/kg

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