Rare US-Asean Collaboration To Pressure Myanmar After Blinken Malaysia Visit

Rare US-Asean Collaboration To Pressure Myanmar After Blinken Malaysia Visit

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US would search for new measures to increase pressure on Myanmar in the face of ongoing post-coup violence and as the country’s neighbours debate whether to keep isolating junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.

In a joint press conference with Blinken, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah stated that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must find a permanent solution to the Myanmar problem.

Saifuddin has been at the forefront of calling for Asean to adopt a tougher stance on Min Aung Hlaing so that he will follow the “five-point consensus” peace plan he committed to in April, alongside colleagues from Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

“I think it’s going to be very important in the weeks and months ahead to look at what additional steps and measures we can take individually and collectively to pressure the regime to put the country back on a democratic trajectory,” Blinken said.

Blinken also said the US remained committed to supporting Asean’s five-point consensus plan, which among other things requires the junta to allow for a regional envoy to hold talks with all sides, including the currently detained ruling party chief Aung San Suu Kyi.

The grouping had decided not to invite Myanmar leader Min Aung Hlaing to a November leaders’ summit as an indirect rebuke for his failure to abide by the five-point consensus.

“The decision was made then that we do not invite the leader of the military junta. But we cannot go on like this, we have to make sure that there are certain ways of doing things,” Saifuddin said.

Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia has stated that he prefers engagement to isolation with Myanmar. Hun Sen said on Wednesday that he believed he would be given a chance to mediate the problem, despite criticism of his softer position.