Malaysian foreign minister meets his Myanmar shadow government counterpart in Washington

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FILE PHOTO: Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng Reuters_tickers

This content was published on May 15, 2022 – 05:02

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah met his counterpart from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow administration banned by the ruling military junta, during the group’s first open engagement with a Southeast Asian country.

The meeting, revealed by Saifuddin in a Twitter post late Saturday, was held on the sidelines of a two-day summit in Washington between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). , which has 10 members. a military coup last year.

Myanmar has repeatedly called on countries not to engage with the NUG, a group of members of the deposed administration, and other military opponents whom the junta has branded as “terrorists”.

In his Twitter post, Saifuddin said Malaysia “stands ready to work to restore peace and democracy in Myanmar” during an informal meeting with NUG Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung.

“We took the opportunity to exchange views on the latest developments in Myanmar, where Minister Zin shared ideas as well as challenges facing the NUG, including humanitarian assistance, technical training and l education for refugees from Myanmar,” he said.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military leadership did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on the meeting.

In a statement, Myanmar’s foreign ministry, however, denounced reports of engagements in Washington between the US State Department and NUG officials, and said it had sent protest notes to all ASEAN countries and the United States asking them to refrain from speaking to the opposition government.

The ministry also said it rejected a paragraph contained in a 28-page joint statement released by the United States and ASEAN, which called for the rapid implementation of a five-point peace plan agreed by Myanmar.

The ministry said the language used in the paragraph suggested interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs and included references to matters within its sovereign jurisdiction, “including unacceptable proposals that go beyond the five-point consensus.” .

On Friday, US Under Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman said she met with NUG Foreign Minister Zin “to show support for all those working to restore Burma’s path to a inclusive democracy”.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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