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ASEAN foreign ministers to meet


ASEAN foreign ministers to meet

ASEAN foreign ministers to meet Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty

The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet in Cambodia today.

The ministers will discuss the bloc’s policy towards the military junta in Myanmar. Following last February’s coup in Myanmar, ASEAN adopted the Five Point Consensus policy towards the country. The policy ties humanitarian aid and recognition from ASEAN to good-faith participation in dialogue by the junta and a lack of violent action.

Following a UN Security Council statement on February 2 condemning ongoing violence in Myanmar and voicing support for the Five Point Consensus, ASEAN barred the junta’s foreign minister from today’s meeting. The censure from the Security Council—which includes China and Russia, the junta’s primary prospective allies—gave ASEAN diplomatic cover for the move.

China, Russia and ASEAN are not inclined towards meddling in Myanmar’s internal affairs. All are primarily interested in reducing the violence there before it spreads. ASEAN will likely push for a return to the pre-coup arrangement—free elections, but seats reserved for the military—as that offers the best immediate chance for reducing violence. However, the junta is unlikely to accept this: their coup was driven by a fear of losing power to elected governments under that arrangement.

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