Jakarta. Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, will hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where they are expected to address the ongoing conflict in Myanmar's northwestern Rakhine State.
“Asean member states, we are not standing still. We are having dialogues among ourselves [and] trying to think of how we can [offer] some type of assistance or cooperation to cope with this situation in the region," Thailand’s permanent representative to Asean, Phasporn Sangasubana, told reporters on Tuesday (12/09).
In line with Asean’s principle of sovereignty and non-interference, Sangasubana said, the dialogues and discussions have remained closed; as the situation in Myanmar is considered a domestic issue.
The informal meeting is set to take place on Sept. 23 in New York.
Despite strong calls for unity and improved regional integration and cooperation from its leaders, Asean member states have remained firm on their non-interference stance and issued no statement to address the escalating violence in Myanmar that has led to the exodus of around 370,000 Rohingya muslims to neighboring Bangladesh, with more reportedly trapped on the border.
The conflict in Rakhine State is a test for the regional bloc on the year of its 50th anniversary and may provide answers to questions of the bloc’s relevance previously raised by experts and analysts.