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Myanmar Crisis

ASEAN seeks to bring US and China on board to end Myanmar crisis

Bloc to hold foreign ministers meetings with two nations to advance its proposal

Pro-democracy activists rally near the Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretariat building in Jakarta ahead of the bloc's April 24 summit.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has begun negotiations to hold a foreign ministers' meeting with the U.S. as well as with China, as the bloc seeks support for its efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar triggered by its Feb. 1 coup.

Preparations for the meeting with China are moving ahead, and the two sides could meet soon, an ASEAN source told Nikkei. But ASEAN and the U.S. are still ironing out the details, including the format of the meeting should Myanmar send a member of its junta as its representative.

ASEAN leaders met on April 24 to discuss Myanmar's military coup, which ousted its democratically elected government, and the subsequent crackdown on protests that have left more than 750 people dead, according to human rights groups. Following the summit, the ASEAN chair issued a statement calling for the "immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar."

The leaders also agreed that "a special envoy of the ASEAN chair shall facilitate mediation" in Myanmar, and that the bloc would "provide humanitarian assistance" to the country, the statement said.

Still, ASEAN has no way to enforce these clauses. It believes that it needs the support of the broader international community, particularly the U.S. and China, to persuade the Myanmar military to take action.

ASEAN usually holds a foreign ministers' meeting with China and with the U.S. at the ASEAN Regional Forum each summer. In light of the April 24 summit, the bloc has decided to push for earlier meetings this year.

"We appreciate efforts by ASEAN to support a peaceful resolution of the crisis caused by the Burmese military," U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price had tweeted this week, referring to Myanmar's former name. 

While China has remained fairly quiet on the issue since the ASEAN summit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has repeatedly expressed support for ASEAN taking a lead on the situation in Myanmar.

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