U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday it is necessary to look at applying additional measures against Myanmar where 10 months after a military coup “the crisis has only continued to worsen.”
Speaking to reporters alongside Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah during a visit to Kuala Lumpur, Blinken said the goal of actions by individual countries or a collective effort would be to “pressure the regime to put the country back on a democratic trajectory.”
He cited several specific goals, including an end to violence, the release of prisoners and access for humanitarian workers.
“ASEAN has a five-point consensus plan that the junta agreed to and signed on to,” Blinken said, referencing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “That plan needs to be implemented.”
Saifuddin said the situation in Myanmar will be an important part of the agenda when ASEAN foreign ministers meet next month and that a more detailed plan for the roadmap is necessary.
“We should be looking at what are the real next steps,” he said. “We have the five-point consensus, but we do not identify exactly when certain things need to be achieved and how. So, outlining the actual steps and the actual milestones as to the dates and outcomes would be, I believe, an important position that we will try and arrive at during our meeting.”
Saifuddin expressed the need to take action, highlighting the spillover effects to Myanmar’s neighbors such as the number of Rohingya refugees being hosted in Bangladesh and Malaysia.
“I understand that we celebrate the principles of non-interference, but if I can reiterate what I had said earlier, ASEAN should also look at the principle of non-indifference because what is happening in Myanmar is already getting out of Myanmar,” he said.
Blinken’s visit to Malaysia also includes a meeting with Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin, as well as talking with representatives from Malaysia’s energy sector about clean energy reforms and an event with people involved with the Malaysian Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative.
He travels Thursday to Thailand.
VOA State Department Correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur.