Thailand pledges support to Laos in handling ASEAN issues

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Thailand is prepared to back Laos in addressing the Myanmar crisis and other significant issues within the ASEAN region, according to Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara. During a press conference yesterday, January 29, he explained that this support would bolster Laos’s success as the ASEAN chair this year.

Parnpree held discussions with his Lao equivalent, Saleumxay Kommasith, on Sunday to explore Laos-Thailand relations. This meeting took place amidst an ASEAN foreign ministers’ retreat organised by the Laos government, an initiative connected with its ASEAN chairmanship.

The foremost subject of their conversation was the ongoing crisis in Myanmar. Parnpree voiced Thailand’s readiness to aid Laos in tackling the issue. The minister highlighted the significant concerns within the ASEAN community regarding the situation in Myanmar, which had been in turmoil since the military coup in February 2021. He expressed hope for peace to be restored as soon as possible.

Parnpree shared Thailand’s approach to this crisis, based on the five-point consensus. This consensus encompasses stopping all forms of violence, opening the country for humanitarian aid, and initiating talks among various groups.

“One of these consensuses is humanitarian assistance, and Thailand sees that if we started from this consensus, it would help to lead us to another consensus to solve the problems.

“The Lao FM agreed on this principle, and I believe he will propose this method to the ASEAN summit this year.”

Humanitarian assistance

Parnpree also held a separate discussion with Retno Marsudi, the Indonesian foreign minister, about Indonesia-Thailand relations. He explained Thailand’s approach to the Myanmar situation through humanitarian assistance, a strategy Marsudi agreed with.

When asked about establishing a safe zone for providing humanitarian assistance related to Myanmar’s crisis, Parnpree revealed ongoing considerations for such a measure.

“We are in the process of considering an area to provide humanitarian assistance. Between February 8-9, I will travel to Mae Sot to observe a possible area for establishing humanitarian assistance, and if that is suitable, there will be further procedures.”

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Thailand’s vice minister for foreign affairs, expressed that Thailand would like to see the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, return to ASEAN and join high-level dialogue. However, for that to happen, the Tatmadaw would need to adhere to the five-point consensus, reported Bangkok Post.

Sihasak emphasised that all ASEAN nations had a shared objective of progressing under this consensus. He stated that every ASEAN country views these principles as the primary framework for resolving the crisis in Myanmar.

In related news, Myanmar’s years of resistance against the military coup were marked by protests, violence, and continued defiance.

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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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