ASEAN LEADERS’ MEETING ON MYANMAR BEGINS IN INDONESIA

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JAKARTA – The Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) leaders has begun a meeting in Indonesia on Saturday to seek a solution to the Myanmar crisis, which has killed more than 700 people since the Feb. 1 military coup.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah from Brunei Darussalam, the current chair of the regional bloc, is presiding over the meeting at the office of ASEAN Secretariat in Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Saturday’s meeting “consists of three segments, namely ASEAN community development, ASEAN external relations, and regional and international issues,” the Indonesian presidency said in a statement.

Among the participants of the meeting are the bloc’s Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi and Myanmar’s junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, as well as Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr., Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen are also attending the meeting.

On Friday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the meeting was an initiative of the host country and a follow-up to Widodo’s talks with Hassanal last month.

At least 745 people have been killed in a military crackdown against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, according to the latest figures released by a rights watchdog.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a daily briefing late Friday that 3,371 people are in detention, 79 have been convicted and arrest warrants have been issued for at least 1,118 others.

The violence has continued despite the ASEAN leaders’ gathering to discuss the evolving situation.