The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed that the Philippines will occupy the rotating presidency of the regional body in 2026 instead of Myanmar, after assessing that the junta has not made “any significant progress” in the implementation of a peace plan reached ago. two years.
The agreement was reached during a retreat of leaders, after they verified that the application of the so-called five-point consensus has not advanced, according to what the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi, told the press.
The consensus was reached between Myanmar and the other countries of the grouping in April 2021, whose objective is to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Myanmar.
The withdrawal is part of a series of summits between ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners that will last until Thursday.
Military-ruled Myanmar is not participating in the summits as Indonesia, the host country and chair of the 10-member group this year, has maintained ASEAN’s position of only allowing it to send a non-political representative.
Retno said the leaders also decided to establish a troika made up of the current, former and next ASEAN president to ensure that efforts will continue to deal with the Myanmar crisis, which they believe is unlikely to be resolved in a anus. ASEAN will also retain the post of ASEAN presidential special envoy for Myanmar, he added.
Although ASEAN’s efforts on Myanmar have not borne fruit, its ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai held a meeting at a prison in the capital, Naypyitaw, on 9 July, the first confirmed contact between her and a senior foreign government official since the February 2021 coup.
The lack of prior coordination between the Thai Foreign Minister and Indonesia raised doubts and concerns in some member countries. However, ASEAN foreign ministers later stated that a number of ASEAN member states welcomed the meeting with Suu Kyi.
Trade between Vietnam and Indonesia is expected to exceed $15 billion soon
Earlier on Tuesday, in an apparent reference to the US-China rivalry, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told ASEAN leaders that Southeast Asia should take a neutral stance, stating that ASEAN “has agreed not to be seized of no power, and cooperate with anyone for peace and prosperity.”
“Do not make our ship, ASEAN, a field of rivalries in which (countries) destroy each other,” but a field in which cooperation grows, said the president, popularly known as Jokowi.
The United States will send Vice President Kamala Harris instead of President Joe Biden to the ASEAN-sponsored series of summits with partner countries on Wednesday and Thursday. China will be represented by Prime Minister Li Qiang, India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Russia by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
ASEAN and China have been drafting a code of conduct to avoid clashes in the region, as ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping territorial claims with China and Taiwan.
Tensions between China and some ASEAN members have escalated since Beijing recently released a map claiming maritime zones from Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.
Malaysia stated that it had lodged a diplomatic protest over the map. The Philippines also filed a protest, claiming that a line drawn on the map showing almost the entire South China Sea as part of China had been invalidated by a 2016 ruling by an international court based in the Netherlands.
According to a draft statement to be issued after the ASEAN-China summit scheduled for Wednesday, ASEAN leaders may express concern over activities that have sparked tensions in the waters, including land claims.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Its presidency rotates annually according to the alphabetical order of the names in English of its members.