UCA News
Contribute

Thailand defends hosting talks with Myanmar junta

The move has split ASEAN and drawn criticism that it is undermining the bloc's efforts to tackle the crisis
Thailand's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai gives a press following his meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, on Jan. 26

Thailand's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai gives a press following his meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, on Jan. 26. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 20, 2023 05:45 AM GMT
Updated: June 20, 2023 05:49 AM GMT

Thailand on Monday defended hosting talks with the Myanmar junta that have split the regional bloc leading diplomatic efforts to end the chaos engulfing the country since the military seized power.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a February 2021 coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with more than 3,600 civilians killed in the military's crackdown on dissent, according to a monitoring group.

The generals have been barred from high-level meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc, of which Myanmar is a member.

But Thailand's caretaker government, which is dominated by army-linked parties, last week invited junta foreign minister Than Shwe to the informal two-day meeting.

The move has split ASEAN and drawn criticism that it is undermining the bloc's efforts to tackle the crisis.

However, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the talks were needed.

"We suffer more than others because we share more than 3,000 kilometers of land and sea border with Myanmar," Prayut told reporters.

"We need to talk, otherwise people will be affected. Today is just a meeting, we did not agree on anything."

Indonesia and Malaysia -- among the junta's harshest critics within ASEAN -- snubbed the meeting, while Singapore warned it was premature to engage the junta at such a high level.

Cambodia sent a junior foreign ministry official while China -- long a key supporter of the Myanmar military -- dispatched Deng Xijun, its special envoy for Asian affairs.

The split is a fresh blow to ASEAN's already faltering efforts to defuse the crisis.

No progress has been made towards implementing a five-point peace plan agreed on two years ago and the last ASEAN summit, in May, ended without any significant progress on the matter.

Fighting between the army and rebel groups in Myanmar has periodically sent thousands of people fleeing across the border into Thailand.

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the kingdom was suffering the effects of the crisis more than other countries in the region.

"Thailand is the only country that wants to find a solution," he told reporters.

"None of the other ASEAN members care as much as us."

Prayut, a former army chief who himself seized power in a coup in 2014, suffered a heavy defeat at last month's Thai general election but is still in the post in a caretaker capacity.

A senior Southeast Asian official familiar with the matter told AFP at the weekend they suspected the outgoing Thai government was trying to find a way to persuade ASEAN to let Myanmar attend high-level meetings again.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia