05/09/2023, 14.29
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Myanmar crisis and economy at the centre of 42nd ASEAN summit in Labuan Bajo

by Mathias Hariyadi

The meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations opens today until Thursday. Indonesian President Jokowi proposes a " forum for dialogue " to end violence in Myanmar (ex-Burma), which "harms innocent people". Indonesian and Singaporean diplomats fired upon in Shan State are unharmed.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The 42nd summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened today in Labuan Bajo, a seaside resort in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) centred on the Myanmar crisis, the region’s economy and future plans for cooperation and development,

Famous for the Komodo dragon (lizard), the exotic venue appreciated by locals and foreigners, will see leaders meet several times between today until Thursday. The meet comes at a time of great turmoil in the region, starting with the violence triggered by the 2021 military coup in Myanmar.

The first of the eight meetings saw foreign ministers discuss the further development of the ASEAN community, the strengthening of their partnership, and a mutual consensus in many areas in which cooperation is already active.

The theme of this summit, “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”, focuses on economic growth and partnership, in principle for everyone.

“Seven scheduled meetings will be chaired by Indonesian President Joko Widodo,” said Indonesian FM Retno Marsudi in a statement, a sign of the importance given to the event by the host country.

The sessions will be devoted to ASEAN Youth, ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), High-Level Task Force on ASEAN Community Post-2025 Vision (HLTF-ACV), summit retreat, 15th Summit of Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).

The summit location is under tight security to deter any terrorist threats or unrest during the event, noted Admiral Yudo Margono, Commander of Indonesia’s Armed Forces and Police Chief Listyo Sigit.

Some 9,428 agents have been deployed to protect more than 1,500 foreign participants, plus the many Indonesians present.

With respect to security, Indonesia has closely followed recent events in Myanmar where a convoy of foreign diplomats delivering ASEAN humanitarian aid came under fire in Shan State, in the south of the country, Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

Although no one was killed or wounded, a worried Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed hope that violence would end soon in Myanmar.

"Stop using force,” he said. “You have to stop the violence because it only harms innocent people. Let's create a forum for dialogue to end violence in Myanmar”.

Some non-partisan groups are present at the ASEAN summit.

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