US Pentagon Urges ASEAN to Continue Ending Violence in Myanmar

US Pentagon Urges ASEAN to Continue Ending Violence in Myanmar

Secretary of Defense of the United States (US) Lloyd Austin condemned the actions of Myanmar's military rulers on Tuesday (27/7). He urged the regional bloc, ASEAN to continue to demand an end to the violence.

“ASEAN clearly plays a key role, or could play a key role. We will certainly continue to encourage ASEAN to continue working on this issue,” said Austin.

Austin praised the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for its efforts to resolve the crisis, including the consensus reached with Myanmar's military leadership in April. "The Myanmar military's refusal to respect the inalienable rights of the Burmese people and to defend their basic welfare is completely unacceptable," Austin said at a lecture in Singapore.

The five-point document calls for an immediate end to the violence and the start of dialogue between the warring parties, with ASEAN's special envoy mediating in the talks. However, a special envoy has not yet been appointed.

“The military exists to serve its people, not the other way around. So we ask Myanmar's military to adhere to the ASEAN five-point consensus and to create lasting peace," Austin said.

Austin said the US would work with partners in the region to urge Myanmar's military to move in the right direction. He promised to help free imprisoned civilians.

The Pentagon leader, who is on a tour of Southeast Asia, met Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday. He also met Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen to reaffirm the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

The retired four-star Army general hopes to strengthen ties with other Southeast Asian allies in the coming days. He will visit Vietnam and the Philippines amid tensions in the disputed South China Sea, which is largely claimed by China.

"As Prime Minister Lee has advised, we are not asking countries in the region to choose between the United States and China," Austin said.

“In fact, many of our partnerships in the region are older than the People's Republic of China itself. That's why we're expanding our important work with countries across the Indo-Pacific and with ASEAN itself, an important body that brings the region together, offers everyone a voice, builds the habit of deeper cooperation," said Austin.