New Delhi, May 30 (PTI) The position of the ASEAN on engaging Myanmar at multilateral forums has been that it should be at the non-political level, diplomatic sources said on Monday as India prepares to host a meeting of the foreign ministers of the 10-nation grouping next month.
The sources indicated that India is unlikely to invite the Myanmarese foreign minister for the meeting and instead, could invite an official. It is learnt that India has been in touch with the ASEAN on various aspects of hosting the foreign ministers’ meeting, including the question relating to Myanmar. “Our position on engaging Myanmar has been that it should be at the non-political and non-military level,” said a diplomatic source in one of the ASEAN countries.
On February 1 last year, Myanmar’s military grabbed power in a coup and imposed a state of emergency after detaining Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD). The country witnessed massive protests following the coup. The international community has been severely critical of the coup.
Myanmar has been a key member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Following the coup, India has been pushing Myanmar for the restoration of democracy. At the same time, India has not boycotted the Myanmarese government or its officials. Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and it shares a 1,640-kilometre-long border with a number of northeastern states, including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.
The 10-nation ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries, including the US, China, Japan and Australia, are its dialogue partners. The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with the focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.