TOKYO: The top diplomats of the United States, India, Japan and Australia on Thursday (Feb 18) sought an "urgent" return to democracy in Myanmar in four-way talks, the US State Department said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his first joint talks with the so-called Quad discussed "the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma, and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience in the broader region," spokesman Ned Price said.
Myanmar's military has arrested civilian leaders, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and announced a year-long state of emergency, alleging that November's election was beset by fraud. The electoral commission dismissed the army's complaints.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Thursday he had agreed with his US, Indian and Australian counterparts that democracy must be restored quickly in Myanmar.
Motegi made his comment after the phone conversation with Blinken, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
READ: Violence, in particular live rounds, should not be used on unarmed civilians in Myanmar: FM Balakrishnan
Separately on Thursday, Britain announced it was imposing sanctions on three generals in Myanmar for serious human rights violations following the military coup.
"We, alongside our international allies will hold the Myanmar military to account for their violations of human rights and pursue justice for the Myanmar people," foreign minister Dominic Raab said.
Washington imposed new sanctions on the Myanmar military last week and has urged other UN members to follow suit.
Britain said it would enforce immediate asset freezes and travel bans against the three members of the Myanmar military: Minister of defence Mya Tun Oo, minister for home affairs Soe Htut and deputy minister for home affairs Than Hlaing.
Britain already had sanctions in force against 16 individuals from the Myanmar military.
In addition, further safeguards were being put in place to prevent British aid indirectly supporting the military-led government.
"Myanmar’s military and police have committed serious human rights violations, including violating the right to life, the right to freedom of assembly, the right not to be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention, and the right to freedom of expression," the government statement said.
Canada announced similar sanctions on nine Myanmar military officials on Thursday, saying the coup has led to mass detentions, the use of force and restrictions to democratic freedoms.
"We work alongside our international partners who call for the restoration of the democratically-elected government, and we echo their calls for the Myanmar military to release those who have been unjustly detained in the military takeover," Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the World Bank on Thursday said it is taking an "extra cautious" stance toward future engagement with Myanmar but is continuing to execute existing projects there.
World Bank President David Malpass told reporters that the multilateral development lender has no new Myanmar projects in the pipeline and will be looking for guidance from its shareholders as to how to move forward.
The bank had previously taken a cautious approach because of issues with Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims, he added.