Thursday, December 7, 2023

US Sticks to ASEAN-Proposed 5-Point Consensus on Myanmar Issue: Blinken

Jayanty Nada Shofa
July 15, 2023 | 2:23 am
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks towards the podium for a press statement in Jakarta on July 14, 2023. (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks towards the podium for a press statement in Jakarta on July 14, 2023. (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)

Jakarta. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday commented on Thailand’s approach to involve the Myanmar junta in informal talks, by simply saying that Washington would support anything that could press the military regime into implementing ASEAN’s five-point peace plan.

Thailand has been making headlines for hosting the hotly debated informal talks that invited the junta last month amidst ASEAN's unified approach that centers on the five-point consensus. Laos was the only one who attended Thailand’s informal dialogue, while ASEAN chair Indonesia continued to push for the five-point consensus should remain the basis for dealing with the Myanmar crisis.

Thailand recently defended its approach by saying that the informal talks were according to an earlier ASEAN document that called for fresh approaches. And these conflicting stances show that ASEAN countries are split on how to deal with Myanmar.

Blinken on Friday had been spending almost the entire day having foreign policy talks with his ASEAN counterparts. During a press conference on his Jakarta trip, Blinken received a question on what the US take on Thailand’s approach and whether they thought it contradicted what ASEAN had been working on.


“Regarding the question on Burma, look, we support any effort that can advance the five-point consensus on its implementation and adherence to the consensus by the regime in Myanmar,” Blinken told the press briefing.

Blinken neither confirmed nor denied whether the US thought that Thailand’s engagements were contradicting ASEAN's efforts. Earlier in the day, Blinken took part in the US-ASEAN conference, during which he also spoke of the need to pressure the junta into ending violence.

“In Myanmar, we must press the military regime to stop the violence, to implement ASEAN's five-point consensus to support a return to democratic governance,” Blinken said.

ASEAN on Thursday launched a joint communique on its 56th foreign ministers’ meeting. The 31-page document said that Thailand had already briefed ASEAN on its approach while noting that several unnamed member states of the Southeast Asian bloc viewed Bangkok’s activities in Myanmar as a "positive development".

"We reaffirmed ASEAN unity and reiterated that any effort should support, in line with the five-point consensus and in coordination with the chair of ASEAN," the document reads.

According to the communique, ASEAN plans on conducting a comprehensive review of the five-point consensus implementation. The ASEAN foreign ministers pledged to submit their recommendations at the ASEAN Summit in September. 

ASEAN in 2021 adopted the five-point consensus aimed to bring peace to Myanmar. The peace plan calls for, among others, an immediate cessation of violence as well as a constructive dialogue among all parties concerned. ASEAN has banned the Myanmar junta from attending the bloc’s high-level summits after they showed little to no progress in implementing the five-point consensus.

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