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SUNDAY, September 25, 2022
Blinken vows to keep US pressure on Myanmar regime

Blinken vows to keep US pressure on Myanmar regime

MONDAY, July 11, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday vowed to continue pressing the Myanmar junta to cease its violent repression and return to a path of democracy.

“We will continue to look for ways that we can – and other countries can – effectively put pressure on the regime to move back to the democratic path, and we’re doing that on a regular basis,” Blinken said in Bangkok, during his first official trip to Thailand shortly after attending the Group of 20 (G20) foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia’s Bali.

He also called on Asean to hold the Myanmar regime, which ousted the civilian government last year, accountable and for China to support Myanmar’s return to democracy.

“I think it’s also incumbent upon China and in China’s interest to see Burma move back to the path that it was on that it was so violently disrupted from by the coup,” he said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

Blinken was originally scheduled to visit Thailand in December last year but had to call it off after a member of his travelling party tested positive for Covid-19.

On this trip, he also met Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss issues such as post-pandemic economic recovery, cooperation related to climate change and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings that Thailand is hosting in November.

While both countries are long-standing treaty allies, Thailand – like much of Southeast Asia – has tried to stay neutral amid intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

Blinken’s trip to Thailand comes within a week of a similar visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who managed to get Bangkok to pledge to complete the much-delayed Thai-Chinese high-speed railway by 2028. This will link Thailand to China via a newly opened rail system in Laos and open a faster overland conduit of goods and people.

The top US diplomat held about five hours of talks with Wang in Bali on Saturday after the G20 meeting, addressing issues such as human rights, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Blinken, who had joined some of his G20 counterparts in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reportedly urged Beijing to distance itself from the Kremlin during his talks with Wang.

“Despite the complexities of our relationship, I can say with some confidence that our delegations found today’s discussions useful, candid and constructive,” Blinken said after speaking to his Chinese counterpart.

Tan Hui Yee

The Straits Times

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Blinken vows to keep US pressure on Myanmar regime