Laos Defense Minister Chansamone Chanyalath, Malaysia’s Defense Minister Mohamad Hasan, Philippines’s Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and Thailand’s Defense Minister Sutin Klungsang share a light moment as they pose for a family photo during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting in Jakarta, 15 November 2023. (Reuters/Mast Irham)
Southeast Asia’s regional bloc ASEAN will not interfere in the internal problems of any one country, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said on Thursday.
He was responding to a question about the coordinated offensive mounted by rebel groups in several parts of Myanmar.
Speaking at an ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting in Jakarta, Prabowo added the bloc is pushing for the Myanmar leadership to find a non-violent resolution to its crisis.
ASEAN defence ministers earlier called for a durable solution in Myanmar, as conflicts are deepening there.
On Wednesday, Prabowo did not mention any specific issues in the speech, but he named the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and Myanmar as “hot spots that can destabilise the region.”
Myanmar’s generals have been barred from high-level meetings of the 10-member ASEAN since they seized power in a 2021 coup and unleashed violence on those who challenged their takeover.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is “deeply concerned” about the widening conflict in Myanmar, sparked by an offensive launched by ethnic minority armed groups last month.
Guterres is “deeply concerned by the expansion of conflict” across a vast swathe of the country that the UN says has displaced more than 200,000 people, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Wednesday.
Fighting has raged since October 27 after the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) launched attacks on the military near the northern border with China.
This week, the AA launched fresh attacks on the military in western Rakhine state, while anti-junta fighters in Kayah state on the Thai border were battling the military near state capital Loikaw.
At least 75 civilians including children have been killed and 94 people wounded in the fighting, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, citing initial reports from the field.
● Thu, November 16, 2023