Skip to main content



Myanmar junta minister attend talks hosted by Thailand, key Asean players absent

Officials take part in the EU-Asean summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on Dec 14, 2022.

Officials take part in the EU-Asean summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on Dec 14, 2022.

BANGKOK  — Thailand hosted a regional meeting on Thursday (Dec 22) to discuss the crisis in army-ruled Myanmar, which a government source said included a rare international appearance by several junta ministers, but key players from the Asean  (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) bloc did not attend.

Myanmar's generals have been barred from high-profile gatherings of Asean for failing to honour last year's promises to start talks with opponents linked to the ousted civilian government.

The 10-member Asean grouping has seen internal discord about engaging with the military that seized power in Feb 1 last year, derailing a decade of democratic progress and plunging Myanmar into conflict and economic ruin.

There were no representatives at the talks from Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore — the junta's most vocal critics in the regional bloc. Host Thailand has not publicly disclosed the meeting was taking place.

Myanmar was represented by the military's foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin and several other ministers, a Thai government source with knowledge of the meeting said.

It was not clear what was discussed.

Representatives from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam also attended, said the source, who could not be named because the person was not authorised to speak to the media.

Outgoing Asean chair Cambodia said the talks were expected to see "frank and candid deliberation on how to accelerate progress" on the regional peace initiative.

Asean, which makes decisions by consensus, agreed last month to keep sidelining the Myanmar generals until they comply with its peace plan, which remains the only diplomatic process in play.


The meeting comes a day after the UN Security Council adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years, demanding an end to violence and for the junta to free all political detainees.
Myanmar's junta did not answer calls seeking comment.

Malaysia confirmed it would not attend the Bangkok meeting but did not provide a reason. The Philippines said its foreign minister would also not join, without elaborating.

The foreign ministries of Indonesia, the 2023 Asean chair, and Vietnam said their top diplomats were occupied with an official visit to Jakarta by Vietnam's president.

Singapore's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, a diplomatic source who declined to be identified, read to Reuters what they said was a letter signed by Singapore's foreign minister to the host, which objected to the meeting as Asean had agreed to exclude the junta from such events. Reuters could not verify the letter's content.

"Any meeting convened under Asean formal or informal should not divert from this decision," it said, according to the source.

Myanmar's ties with Asean has been strained over its refusal to halt offensives against a resistance movement backed by ethnic minority armies and a shadow National Unity Government (NUG), which the junta has declared a "terrorist" movement.

The military has warned its neighbours not to engage with the NUG, which is seeking international backing and funds for its campaign to destabilise the junta, amid reports by the United Nations and rights groups of atrocities by government troops. REUTERS


Related topics

ASEAN Myanmar

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.