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Singapore says 'premature' for any Asean talks with Myanmar

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan says that conditions are not yet right.

Adam Arinin
2 minute read
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Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) speaks during a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (right) at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, June 16. Photo: AFP
Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) speaks during a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (right) at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, June 16. Photo: AFP

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Friday that conditions were not yet right for Asean to open high-level talks with Myanmar on the country's political situation.

"We believe it would be premature to reengage with the junta at a summit level or even at a foreign minister level," Balakrishnan said when asked about a news report that Thailand's military-controlled caretaker government had proposed talks.

Speaking in a joint press conference in Washington with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Balakrishnan said the leaders of Asean had recently reaffirmed their stance.

"We condemned the coup, and the ongoing violence against civilians, the instability in the country, the setback to national reconciliation, and the enormous impact on the economy," he said of the 2021 military takeover in Myanmar.

"Unfortunately, it's now more than two years. We haven't seen any signs of improvement," Balakrishnan said.

The Irrawaddy, a Myanmar-focused news website operated in Thailand, said that Thailand's foreign ministry proposed in a recent letter to host an informal ministerial meeting of some Asean members with Myanmar on Monday to relaunch engagement.

Balakrishnan did not reject all engagement with the Myanmar junta.

"The key point is this. You do need everyone ultimately to sit down and negotiate," the Singapore diplomat said.

"I don't know how long it will take. The last time it took 25 years for some form of democratic transition to occur in Myanmar. I hope it won't take that long," he said.

Blinken said the US backs Asean efforts to resolve the violence that has seen 6,000 civilians killed since the February 2021, according to the Peace Research Institute of Oslo.

"It's very important that we continue, all of us, to sustain the appropriate pressure on the junta and look for ways of course to engage the opposition" in Myanmar, Blinken said.

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