Indonesia is seeking to hold a special meeting between ASEAN leaders and the head of Myanmar's military junta amid a lack of progress toward the member country's return to democratic rule after a coup two years ago, an ASEAN diplomatic source said Friday.
Indonesia has sent a senior military officer to Myanmar to share experience in transitioning from rule by the armed forces to democratic government, with President Joko Widodo planning to visit the fellow Southeast Asian country in the near future, a separate diplomatic source said.
The move comes as Indonesia hosts a two-day meeting of foreign ministers from countries that comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations through Saturday, showing signs of a possible change in Jakarta's hardline policy in dealing with the junta.
"There is a possibility of a special meeting between ASEAN leaders and Min Aung Hlaing," the ASEAN diplomatic source told Kyodo News, referring to the military leader who led the coup on Feb. 1, 2021, ousting the democratically elected government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Discussions are ongoing about the special meeting, the source added, with no date or venue yet being decided. But Indonesia plans to host a regional summit in May and September as this year's ASEAN chair.
Following the coup, ASEAN has excluded the junta's leader and junta-appointed ministers from its meetings in an attempt to coax them into implementing a series of steps that were agreed upon shortly after they seized power, with the aim of finding a peaceful solution to the political crisis.
But few, if any, of the steps laid out in the so-called five-point consensus, reached at a special ASEAN summit in April 2021 that was attended by Min Aung Hlaing, have been implemented. One of the steps includes dialogue between all related parties including Suu Kyi, who remains in detention.
Last year, Thailand hosted a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, inviting Myanmar. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar's military junta sent representatives, but Indonesia and four other nations refused to attend.
According to the source, Indonesia may be changing its hard-line policy as ASEAN chair in a bid to seek an immediate solution to the junta's prolonged rule.
Asked about the possible special ASEAN meeting, Sidharto Suryodipuro, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry's director general for ASEAN cooperation, said, "This is the first time I've heard about a special meeting."
On Wednesday's second anniversary of the coup, Myanmar's ruling military extended "state of emergency" measures, implemented by the junta after taking power, for another six months, signaling it has no desire to relinquish its power any time soon.
Extending the state of emergency measures enables the junta to postpone a general election previously scheduled for August 2023 until February the following year.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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