Indonesian President Joko Widodo told other ASEAN leaders Thursday that no real progress has been made on implementing a peace plan struck two years ago to end violence in Myanmar, urging unity among the 10-member group on the issue.

The president's remarks came as the two-day summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations wrapped up in Indonesia. He was referring to the so-called five-point consensus agreed upon at a special ASEAN summit in April 2021, attended by Myanmar junta chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo holds a press conference at the ASEAN summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia on May 11, 2023. (Kyodo)

"I have to be honest that no significant progress has been made on the implementation of the five-point consensus, so ASEAN's unity is needed to formulate further steps," the president said at the gathering in the central Indonesian fishing town of Labuan Bajo, as the political crisis in Myanmar continues.

Steps laid out in the consensus include ending the junta's violence against political opponents and civilian protesters "through concrete, practical and time-bound actions," as well as starting a dialogue between all sides in the country's political turmoil.

In the ASEAN chairman's statement issued after the summit, the member nations reiterated their deep concern over the escalation of violence in Myanmar and called for the "immediate cessation of all forms of violence" so that humanitarian assistance can be delivered to the strife-torn Southeast Asian country.

Following the summit, the president slammed the humanitarian abuses in Myanmar as "intolerable."

He said Indonesia is always ready to engage with all stakeholders in Myanmar, including the junta, but stressed that "engagement is not recognition."

Diplomatic sources have revealed that a secret meeting between Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Myanmar's military-appointed foreign minister, Than Swe, took place on the resort island of Bali last month.

No further details about the meeting were known, but Marsudi told other ASEAN foreign ministers Monday that the "gap among all parties concerned in Myanmar is very wide" and that a peaceful solution to the Myanmar crisis may not be seen in the near future.

ASEAN sources said another ASEAN leaders' retreat to review the five-point consensus has been proposed, though a decision has yet to be made.

Myanmar, where the military seized power in a February 2021 coup, has continued to crack down on dissent, killing thousands of people. The country is absent from the summit as Indonesia has stood by ASEAN's position that the junta should only send a nonpolitical representative, if any.

During the drafting of the chairman's statement, the Philippines had proposed a paragraph that would underline the group's centrality "amidst major power rivalries" in reference to the growing rivalry between the United States and China.

The suggestion was eventually struck down, and the statement simply said the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen ASEAN's "centrality" to maintain and promote peace, security and stability in the region.

ASEAN leaders also discussed issues surrounding the South China Sea and welcomed progress in speeding up negotiations over adopting a "code of conduct" agreement in the South China Sea.

ASEAN and China are currently drawing up the COC to help avert confrontation in the region.

Some ASEAN members have overlapping territorial claims with China and Taiwan.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


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