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By Mohd Shukri Ishak
JAKARTA, April 20 -- The special ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta this Saturday to discuss the crisis in Myanmar will see strict adherence to health and security protocols, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to this, participation of personnel at the meeting will be restricted.
"The ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting will strictly adhere to health and security protocols established by the Government of Indonesia," said the media advisory issued here today by the ASEAN Secretariat.
The Indonesian government is providing the necessary technical advisory and facilitation for the scheduled convening of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plans for a special ASEAN meeting to discuss on Myanmar have been in the works for some weeks, spearheaded by Indonesia and its foreign minister Retno Marsudi whose diplomatic push has been supported by Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.
Myanmar has been going through upheaval since armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing on Feb 1 ousted an elected government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, with security forces killing more than 700 anti coup protesters since then.
On Feb 5, visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in Jakarta they will seek a special meeting of the 10-member grouping to discuss the events unfolding in Myanmar.
Both leaders said their respective foreign ministers have been tasked to talk to Brunei, the current chair of ASEAN, to arrange for the meeting.
Subsequently, during Muhyiddin's visit to Brunei early this month, both nations announced that the special summit will be held in Jakarta to help address the situation in Myanmar.
"The leaders reaffirmed ASEAN's readiness to assist Myanmar, including through the good office of the Chairman of ASEAN and the Secretary-General of ASEAN in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner.
"...it remains in ASEAN's greatest interest to see Myanmar resolve the crisis and regain stability,” according to a joint statement issued at the end of the 23rd Annual Leaders' Consultation at Istana Nurul Iman on April 5.
Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted by foreign agency as saying that Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing will attend the meeting in Indonesia this Saturday, for his first known foreign trip since he staged a Feb 1 coup.