A senior official of Myanmar's military government attended a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos as a nonpolitical representative, diplomatic sources said Sunday.

The attendance of the senior Foreign Ministry official at the meeting in Luang Prabang that began Sunday comes ahead of the third anniversary of the military coup that toppled Myanmar's democratically elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021.

A senior official of Myanmar's military government (2nd from L) is pictured with foreign ministers from other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Luang Prabang, Laos, on Jan. 28, 2024. (Kyodo)

Myanmar had boycotted ministerial meetings since ASEAN members decided in October 2021 to allow only a nonpolitical representative from the country to attend.

This year's ASEAN chair Laos has been willing to engage with Myanmar's military regime. The junta initially sought to have a higher-ranking official such as its foreign minister join the meeting but the plan was rejected by ASEAN members.

The military regime has violently suppressed pro-democracy protesters but fighting between the regime and ethnic groups has been intensifying since October.

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

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