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Exclusive: Southeast Asian nations weigh aid mission to Myanmar

By Tom Allard and Rozanna Latiff, Reuters, published by MSN News 

Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur – Southeast Asian countries are considering a proposal to send a humanitarian aid mission to Myanmar as a potential first step in a long-term plan to broker a dialogue between the junta and its opponents, diplomats familiar with the discussions said today (April 16).

The proposal is being considered ahead of a planned meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders this month. Diplomats said it might be attended by Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, who took power in a Feb. 1 coup that has plunged his country into turmoil.

The Asean summit has yet to be confirmed, although Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on his Facebook account today that it would take place on April 24 and he would fly to Indonesia’s capital for the event.

Myanmar’s junta did not respond to a request for comment.

A national unity government in Myanmar, announced today by members of the civilian administration ousted by the junta, said it should handle any aid from Asean and Min Aung Hlaing should not be allowed to take part in the summit.

Some regional foreign ministers and officials have held talks with Myanmar’s ousted lawmakers, who call themselves the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), but they have not been invited to the meeting.

Myanmar has been in violent disarray since the junta overthrew the government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi.

People have been taking to the streets day after day to demand the restoration of democracy, defying crackdowns by the security forces in which more than 700 people have been killed, according to a monitoring group.

Asean countries – worried by the bloodshed in a country that faces economic collapse, mass civil disobedience and the resurgence of conflict between the military and ethnic groups – have stepped up diplomatic efforts since the coup. Myanmar is a member of the 10-member Asean and the bloc’s mediation could be key to resolving the crisis.


Top: Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military detained deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power, triggering a massive uprising that the junta has sought to quell with lethal force. Photo provided by The Print and published by MSN News

Home Page: Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leave the opening ceremony of Asean Summit in Vientiane. Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun and published by MSN News

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