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Bangkok-hosted summit to ‘fully re-engage’ Naypyidaw

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Thailand’s caretaker government led by its Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai is hosting an informal summit to discuss Burma’s crisis on June 19, Reuters reported. The summit is being attended by military Minister of Foreign Affairs Than Swe. Government officials in Bangkok have put forth a proposal to re-engage with Naypyidaw and claimed that the meeting is meant to support Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) efforts to resolve the protracted crisis. “Dialogue is a fundamental requirement of diplomacy in seeking out peaceful solutions. As a neighboring country that shares a 2,400-km-long border with Myanmar, Thailand wants to see a cessation of violence which will eventually lead to peace and stability inside Myanmar,” stated the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ASEAN foreign ministers were invited to attend the meeting on June 18, but several rebuffed the invitation. Indonesia, the current chair of ASEAN, has been engaging in diplomatic talks with various stakeholders in Burma. It did not attend the meeting. Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi admitted that the latest ASEAN meeting arrived at no consensus nor did it develop new approaches to solve the crisis. Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry claimed it could not attend due to other commitments and voiced its support for Indonesia’s diplomatic efforts through ASEAN. Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishan said that it would be premature to re-engage with the military at the summit level or even at the foreign minister level. Only Cambodia officially confirmed it would attend the talks. Officials from Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, China, and India were also invited.

The Thai government has been criticized both inside and outside the country for hosting the meeting. A group of 316 civil society organizations (CSOs) jointly issued a letter calling on the Thai Foreign Minister to cancel the meeting. It stated that the Thai government’s action undermined the will of the people in Burma. “Don’t interfere. Do not escalate violence in our country,” it added. A boycott of the meeting was called to avoid more bloodshed in Burma. The National Unity Government (NUG) expressed its disappointment at Bangkok. Thai activists and members of the opposition also condemned the meeting. Thailand for Burma, a group of Thai activists that raise awareness about Burma’s pro-democracy movement, strongly criticized its government. “We vehemently condemn Thailand’s ad-hoc plan to invite the foreign minister of Burma’s illegal junta to Bangkok for the so-called 1.5 track discussions,” it stated.

Calls were made for Thailand to engage with the NUG and Ethnic Resistance Organizations (ERO) instead of the military. Pheu Thai Party MP Chaturon Chaisang said on June 16 that Thailand’s caretaker government should let the incoming government shape the country’s foreign policy. The Move Forward Party (MFP) won the most seats in Thailand’s May 14 election and is set to form a coalition government with other pro-democracy parties, including Pheu Thai. MFP leader, and Prime Minister-in-waiting, Pita Limjaroenrat has pledged to engage with all stakeholders in Burma. Thailand’s caretaker government led by former military general Prayut Chan-ocha has regularly engaged with Burma’s military since the 2021 coup. Prayut took power in a 2014 military coup, but consolidated his power with the Thai election in 2019. 

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