Indonesia says UK backs ASEAN push for Myanmar crisis resolution

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The United Kingdom will support Southeast Asian countries in efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, Indonesia’s foreign minister said Wednesday, after talks with her visiting British counterpart.

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi delivers her speech during a press briefing with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/File Photo

Indonesia is among several countries leading a push for high-level talks between leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Myanmar, where nearly 600 people have been killed in a crackdown on demonstrators opposing a Feb. 1 coup.

“We discussed… how the international community, including the UK could support the ASEAN effort to help Myanmar in resolving this situation,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a news briefing after talks with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

In Raab’s speech, he reinstated Britain’s commitment to upholding international maritime law, echoing comments by the United States, Australia and European Union, which are concerned about China’s military activities in the South China Sea, a vital conduit for global trade.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and China have competing claims in the strategic waterway, where China has been widely criticised for building defence facilities on artificial islands and deploying coastguard and hundreds of fishing boats in disputed waters.

Raab said that Britain was committed to ensuring a rules based system be upheld, “because they’re an important pillar of regional and global security”.

The two countries also signed a economic and trade and a counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding. The details of those were not immediately clear.

Myanmar’s former colonial ruler Britain has been among the most vocal critics of the military’s overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.

It is among several Western countries that have imposed or tightened sanctions on the Myanmar generals and the military’s network of business monopolies in response to the coup.

Indonesia is seeking a way to end the crisis through ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, but the bloc’s policy of non-interference and making decisions by consensus have hindered its ability to act decisively.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Martin Petty

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