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Thai foreign minister says met with Myanmar's Suu Kyi

Published 07/12/2023, 02:25 AM
Updated 07/12/2023, 06:21 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Protesters hold up a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi and raise three-finger salutes, during a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of Myanmar's 2021 military coup, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Bangkok, Thailand, February 1, 2023. REU

By Kate Lamb

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Thailand's Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai on Wednesday said he had met with Myanmar's jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the first foreign official to be granted access to the Nobel laureate since her detention by the military two years ago.

The popular pro-democracy figure faces 33 years in prison under a multitude of convictions. She is being held in an annex of a prison in the capital Naypyitaw and has been denied visits, including from her legal team.

Don said that Suu Kyi was in good health and that she supported dialogue to help resolve the crisis in Myanmar, which has been gripped by political and social chaos since a military coup in 2021.

"(The meeting) is an approach of the friends of Myanmar, who would like to see a peaceful settlement," Don told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Jakarta.

He added the objective of seeing Suu Kyi was in line the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) plan to achieve peace in the conflict-ridden country.

Kanchana Patarachoke, a spokesperson for Thailand's foreign ministry, told reporters the private meeting was held on Sunday and lasted over an hour.

"She was in good health both physically and mentally. (Don) briefed ASEAN on the retreat this morning," she said.

Myanmar's shadow National Unity Government, made up of loyalists to the ousted administration, is against engaging the junta for talks unless it releases all political prisoners including Suu Kyi.

ASEAN's so-called five-point consensus is the only official diplomatic process in play for achieving peace in Myanmar, but frustration is mounting in the bloc over the lack of progress in the peace plan.

Don caused a stir last month when he invited ASEAN counterparts to a meeting aimed at re-engaging with Myanmar's military rulers who have been barred from the bloc's high-level meetings over its failure to honour the five-point consensus. Most ASEAN members shunned that meeting.

The 78-year-old Suu Kyi has been convicted of more than a dozen offences, ranging from incitement and election fraud to corruption and breaches of a state secrets law, in trials dismissed around the world as a sham.

She has called the charges absurd and is appealing the convictions at the Supreme Court.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Protesters hold up a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi and raise three-finger salutes, during a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of Myanmar's 2021 military coup, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Bangkok, Thailand, February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

The junta has drawn global condemnation for its heavy-handed crackdown on opponents such as Suu Kyi.

At the ASEAN meeting on Wednesday, foreign ministers called for regional unity in addressing the intensifying conflict in Myanmar.

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