ASEAN FMs pledge support on Rakhine

An unprecedented meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers called to discuss the ongoing military campaign in Rakhine State ended on December 19 with Myanmar expressing its appreciation for the other member states’ understanding. This was the first such meeting Myanmar has initiated on the subject, having previously insisted that issues in Rakhine State are an internal affair that should be given a wide berth under the regional groupings’ “non-interference” clause. According to the ASEAN foreign ministers, two main points were agreed during the informal “retreat” at Yangon’s Sedona Hotel: to work toward re-establishing humanitarian aid access to the affected area, and that Myanmar would regularly update members of the regional bloc on the evolving situation in northern Rakhine State. At yesterday’s meeting, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman called for unimpeded humanitarian access to parts of northern Rakhine State currently restricted by the military’s ongoing “clearance operations”, to which the Myanmar delegation responded favourably, indicating its shared interest in seeing access restored.

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