Myanmar crisis, global tensions take focus at East-Asia Summit in Jakarta

Rising global tensions and the ongoing Myanmar crisis took focus at the East Asia Summit on Thursday, during the last day of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta.

Speaking at the opening of the East Asia Forum, Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged fellow leaders to defuse tensions and not create new conflicts or wars.

“We all have the same responsibility to not create new conflict, to not create new tensions, to not create new wars. At the same time, we also have a responsibility to cool down rising tensions, to warm cold situations, and to create room for dialogues that bridge differences,” Widodo said.

Bangladesh President Mohammad Shahabuddin, who was also present in the meeting, called on the international community to find a durable solution to the conflict in Myanmar, which has driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to his country.

“On humanitarian grounds, even in the seventh year of the crisis, there is no solution in sight, whereas Bangladesh is pushed to the limits. It is the collective responsibility of the international community to find a durable solution to this crisis in its place of origin in Myanmar,” he said.

Shahabuddin also said delays to repatriation of refugees and shortage of humanitarian support could put the entire region at risk.

In a statement on Wednesday, ASEAN chair Indonesia said regional leaders expressed “grave concern” over a lack of substantial progress on their five-point peace plan for Myanmar.