ASEAN agrees on Brunei's second foreign minister as envoy to Myanmar

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 04 2021 08:13 PM

Flags are seen outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat building
Flags are seen outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat building, ahead of the ASEAN leaders' meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 23, 2021. Willy Kurniawan, Reuters/File

JAKARTA— ASEAN foreign ministers agreed Wednesday on Brunei's second foreign minister, Erywan Yusof, as the group's special envoy to Myanmar over the political turmoil in the member country, regional diplomatic sources said.

Myanmar's military-led government approved Erywan's appointment during their 40-minute special meeting, according to the sources, one of whom described the atmosphere of the online gathering as "not as tense as expected."

Leaders of the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed in April to send a special envoy to Myanmar following a military coup in February that ousted a democratically elected government, but months passed without one being appointed.

The foreign ministers discussed the matter on Monday, but no appointment was made pending the Myanmar side's approval. As Myanmar confirmed its acceptance in Wednesday's meeting, the ministers adopted a joint communique from Monday's meeting that had been pending, according to the sources.

Brunei is the current chair country of the 10-member bloc.

The appointment of the ASEAN special envoy is one plank of a "five-point consensus" agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN summit held in Indonesia in late April.

The envoy is expected to facilitate the mediation of a dialogue among "all parties concerned" to seek a "peaceful solution in the interests of the people," according to the consensus.

"Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof is a very experienced ASEAN hand, he is an excellent choice," Bilahari Kausikan, former permanent secretary of Singapore's Foreign Ministry, said. "But I hope ASEAN's friends and partners will not burden him with unrealistic expectations and by second-guessing his every move."

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

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