Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Visits Myanmar as the Chair of ASEAN
On 7 – 8 March 2019, H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, in his capacity as Foreign Minister and Chair of ASEAN, paid a visit to Myanmar to enhance bilateral relations, follow up on cooperation, as well as explore how Thailand and ASEAN can help Myanmar address the situation in Rakhine State. During the visit, Foreign Minister Don paid a courtesy call on H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor, and held bilateral meetings with H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor, H.E. U Thaung Tun, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Relations, and H.E. U Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for International Cooperation. The Foreign Minister expressed Thailand’s readiness to work closely with Myanmar to address the situation in Rakhine State, particularly on the repatriation process of displaced persons in Bangladesh to Rakhine State, the promotion of inter-communal harmony and the improvement of living standards in Rakhine State.
During the meetings, the Myanmar side commended and expressed confidence in Thailand’s role as a close neighbour and the Chair of ASEAN. Myanmar supported the mission of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) to survey and assess the situation in Rakhine State during 4 – 13 March 2019 in order to lay the groundwork for the repatriation process with cooperation from ASEAN Member States. The Myanmar side expressed its firm intention to facilitate the return of the displaced persons to Myanmar by further amending rules and regulations in practical terms. In this connection, Myanmar hoped to reach a conclusion with Bangladesh soon and that Thailand, as ASEAN Chair, would help coordinate with relevant countries to support the early conclusion of the negotiation between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
In parallel to the short-term approach, Myanmar agreed with Thailand that the promotion of long-term economic development in Rakhine State is key towards achieving a sustainable solution in which all relevant parties can fully participate and all communities can equally benefit. Both sides also agreed to promote investment from the private sector in Rakhine State.
The Myanmar side expressed appreciation to Thailand for its support in the areas of humanitarian relief, resettlement and development cooperation. Currently, both sides are engaged in close cooperation to establish development centres based on the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Sittwe and Kyauktaw townships of Rakhine State to help promote self-reliance and the sustainable livelihood of local people. In January 2019, the Myanmar side allowed Thai experts to survey two plots of land in Rakhine State. Both sides also cooperated in the dispatch of Thai mobile medical units to the temporary shelters for Rakhine and Muslim displaced persons in Sittwe, with the first group dispatched during 28 November to 4 December 2018. The next deployment is scheduled for mid-March 2019.
During the Foreign Minister’s visit, both sides also discussed the next steps in promoting the bilateral relationship in various areas, such as the facilitation of Thai investment in Myanmar, development cooperation, the return of Myanmar displaced persons, as well as cooperation on Myanmar’s human resource development plans and connectivity projects.