Jakarta. Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Singapore on Tuesday (06/02) have called for a durable solution to the Myanmar crisis and stressed the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the South China Sea.
While calling for a speedy, voluntary return of displaced persons to Myanmar, they emphasized that the process must take place in a safe, secure and dignified way without undue delay, according to a statement issued by the Asean Secretariat
"The ministers … stressed the need to find a comprehensive and durable solution to address the root causes of the conflict and to create a conducive environment so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives," the statement said.
More than 650,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August last year after attacks by insurgents on the military resulted in a bloody crackdown.
Myanmar regards members of the Rohingya community as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. Many came to Myanmar in the 19th century, while the territory was still under British rule. They have been persecuted for decades and are denied citizenship in both countries.
In the statement, the ministers also urged Myanmar to continue implementation of recommendations by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which was led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
South China Sea
According to the statement, some ministers had expressed concerns over continuing land reclamation and activities in the disputed South China Sea, which they said have eroded trust and confidence, while raising tensions.
The ministers said a peaceful resolution of the dispute must occur be in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"We emphasize the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states," the statement said.
The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the first meeting of a joint working group to negotiate a code of conduct in the South China Sea will take place in Vietnam during March.
The group will not only discuss the proposed code of conduct, but also efforts to increase trust, confidence and mutually beneficial cooperation, especially on maritime affairs.