Myanmar crisis: Urgent peace talks to be held in Thailand amidst regional concerns

Photo Courtesy of United Nations ESCAP, Flickr

Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Don Pramudwinai, has asserted the importance of ongoing regional peace talks with Myanmar, explaining that Thailand has suffered due to the crisis in the neighbouring country and urgent action must be taken to support peacekeeping efforts.

In an exclusive interview with Bangkok Post, Don revealed that the meeting will proceed regardless of some Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers not attending. High-level representatives from several countries, including Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, China, Brunei, and Vietnam, have confirmed their intention to participate.

During the interview, Don conceded the meeting was convened urgently in response to the escalating situation in Myanmar. He added that while Thailand’s government currently holds a caretaker role, it needed to proceed with the meeting, which is already the third of its kind.

The Foreign Affairs Minister emphasised the necessity of the Pattaya meeting, explaining that it has no connection to the government’s caretaker role and the discussion will focus on Myanmar’s ongoing crisis. Don noted that Thailand shares a 2,400-kilometre border with Myanmar, making it highly affected by the crisis. He called for a resolution sooner rather than later to benefit both nations, stressing that the informal gathering serves to complement ASEAN’s official peace initiative known as the “five-point consensus.”

Minister Don also mentioned discontent from Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister, Retno Marsudi, about Thailand’s role in the matter, though he clarified that Thai involvement was only intended to support ASEAN’s efforts to resolve the Myanmar crisis, reported Bangkok Post.

Thailand has invited Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Than Swe to the talks alongside other Asean foreign ministers, but some members have declined Thailand’s invitation, including Indonesia and Singapore. Indonesia is the current chair, and Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, has voiced concerns that it would be premature to re-engage with the junta at a high level.

Opponents argue that Thailand’s initiative may legitimise Myanmar’s military government, which has been barred from ASEAN’s senior-level meetings for almost two years for failing to follow through on an agreement to begin talks with opponents connected to the deposed civilian government. Myanmar has experienced turmoil and violence since a coup on February 1, 2021, with the military fighting multiple fronts to suppress an armed pro-democracy resistance movement formed in response to the crackdown. The junta maintains that it is combatting terrorists intent on destroying the country.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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