Myanmar violence, Ukraine war hang over ASEAN meeting

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — Foreign ministers from Southeast Asia gathered in the Cambodian capital for a meeting on ongoing violence in Myanmar and other issues, with top diplomats from the United States, China, Russia and other world powers nervous about the invasion The situation adds to the meeting over Ukraine and concerns about Beijing’s growing ambitions in the region.

At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Phnom Penh, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet at the same venue for the second time in a month, though it was unclear whether the two would meet.

The two did not meet individually in early July when they attended a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 nations in Bali, Indonesia.But they had their first direct contact before Russia invaded Ukraine on the phone On Friday, Blinken urged Moscow to accept the deal to release American detainees Britney Greener and Paul Whelan, and discussed other issues.

Also present was Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. After a coup in February 2021 sparked mass protests and armed resistance, many urged Beijing to use its partnership with Russia to push for an end to the conflict in Ukraine and to help promote peace and restore civilian rule in Myanmar.

The meeting comes at a time of tension between Washington and Beijing, as the United States pushes back against China’s growing economic and military influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is visiting the region and may visit Taiwan. This further exacerbates friction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned last week that “whoever plays with fire will die.”

Communist-ruled China considers Taiwan its own territory and has said it may take back the island by force if it deems necessary.The United States pursues the “One China” policy It recognizes Beijing as the Chinese government but maintains informal and defense ties with Taiwan.

During last week’s phone call with U.S. President Joe BidenChinese leader Xi Jinping has opposed the possibility of Pelosi’s stay in what would be the highest-level U.S. visit to Taiwan in 25 years.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its impact on global food and energy prices and the escalation of Sino-US frictions are issues of high concern to the 10 ASEAN countries, said Susannah Barton, director of the Southeast Asia Program at Australia’s Lowy Institute.

“This is one of the first in-person regional foreign ministers’ meetings since 2019, so such a meeting is a very important opportunity for the US, China and even Russia to show their support for ASEAN and take a stand. narratives about their commitment to regional security and prosperity,” she said.

Blinken, Wang and Lavrov are all vying for influence I have traveled abroad a lot recently.After the meeting, Blinken traveled to the Philippines, then to Africa.

Biden meets ASEAN leaders The group’s first summit in Washington was held at the White House in May.During those meetings, Biden announced that he would nominate one of his top national security aides to serve as the group’s ambassador, emphasizing the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States

Lately, Lavrov has focused on Africa, while Wang has visited several Pacific islands In May, it toured five countries in Southeast Asia last month.

During that visit, he said China was speeding up talks with ASEAN, including four countries that have disputes with Beijing over territorial claims in the South China Sea, to develop a non-aggression pact called a “code of conduct” to turn things around. . The body of water “turns into an ocean of peace and cooperation”.

The ASEAN meeting also brought together some of the countries that have or are in the process of partnering with ASEAN, including India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Australia in particular has stressed the importance of ASEAN countries, with Foreign Minister Penny Wong saying last month that they should see new alliances, including Australia, the United States, India and the new Japan’s “Quarter” group and the “AUKUS” group Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, good for the region.

“Asean centrality means we will always consider our security in the context of yours,” she told a forum in Singapore.

“We deeply understand the way they are interconnected. We believe Australia has to find security in Asia, not Asia, and that means first and foremost in Southeast Asia.”

Myanmar’s military, which overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, is a member of the ASEAN Group of 10. It did not send any representatives after other members decided not to have Myanmar political representatives.

The country’s escalating violence has featured prominently on the ASEAN agenda as it struggles to implement the five-point consensus on Myanmar reached last year.It called for dialogue, humanitarian aid, an immediate cessation of violence and a visit by ASEAN envoys from all parties involved Meet with all parties.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s ouster sparked widespread peaceful protests that were violently suppressed. They have morphed into armed resistance and the country has been plunged into what some UN experts say is a civil war.

Blinken criticized ASEAN for not doing enough on Myanmar (formerly Myanmar).resumption of judicial executions In late July, the military-led government hanged four political prisoners, sparking a backlash against its military ruler, an act that Malaysia’s foreign minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, denounced as “anti-theft”. human sin”.

New sanctions are being considered, and Abdullah said ahead of the meeting that the group should consider scrapping or revising its five-point consensus. He said the ASEAN envoy also needed to meet with the Government of National Unity, a shadow civil affairs agency established outside Myanmar, to help shape the new political framework.

“The end result is a democratic, inclusive and just, peaceful, harmonious and prosperous Myanmar with constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights,” he said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi proposed that ASEAN hold a special meeting on Myanmar to discuss recent developments.

More than 2,100 people have been killed since the junta came to power Nearly 15,000 people were arrested, according to the Political Prisoner Aid Society, an NGO that tracks killings and arrests.

“All developments in Myanmar, including the execution of political prisoners, show that the implementation of the five-point consensus is a setback, not progress,” Marsudi said.

Cambodia currently holds the rotating chair of ASEAN, which includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei in addition to Myanmar.


Associated Press reporters Matthew Lee in Washington, DC; Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia; Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines; and Rod McGuirk and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia contributed to this story.

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