WASHINGTON — Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, took part in the Friends of the Mekong ministerial meeting. In the meeting, he called upon the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to hold the military regime in Myanmar accountable quickly to the association’s five-point consensus.
“I welcomed the selection of Bruneian Second Foreign Minister Erywan as Association of Southeast Asian Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar and urged the Special Envoy and Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to act quickly to hold the military accountable to the Five-Point Consensus and to engage all parties, including pro-democracy leaders,” Blinken said in a statement.
“Association of Southeast Asian Nations’s leadership is also needed to address the military coup in Burma. In my meetings this week, I again called for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to urge the military to end the violence, restore Burma’s democratic transition, and release all those unjustly detained.”
During the meeting, Blinken welcomed the appointment by the ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations of Brunei’s second Foreign Minister, Erywan Yusof as a special envoy to Myanmar.
Yusof was appointed on Aug.4.
“#MFAThai congratulates and fully supports Dato’ Erywan Pehin Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam on his appointment as Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar,” tweeted Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Thailand.
On Feb. 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests, which were quashed with deadly violence in the country.
The Mekong-US Partnership is part of broader US support for the region’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations-centered architecture and the US vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Blinken said that the US encourages the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take a more significant leadership role in addressing Mekong sub-regional challenges such as food security, environmental degradation, and transnational crime. These issues impact all ten maritime and mainland Association of Southeast Asian Nations states.
“Enhancing ties with the countries of the Mekong region is a priority for the United States,” he tweeted.
“With our Mekong partners, we are strengthening good governance, economic independence, and sustainable development by promoting transparent, rules-based policies.”
In the meeting, the leaders also discussed combating the coronavirus pandemic.
“To combat the prevailing threat of the last two years— Covid-19— the United States has delivered 8.5 million vaccines and close to $60 million in assistance to date to Mekong subregion countries, and we will continue to work closely with local health authorities in pandemic preparedness and mitigation,” said Blinken in the statement.
“The US can look forward together to expanded engagement on issues that affect not just the Mekong region, but the globe, including women’s empowerment, strengthening health systems to prepare for the next pandemic, and raising our climate ambition.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra