Sat, 25 Sep 2021

Washington [US], August 6 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday (local time) took part in the Friends of the Mekong ministerial meeting and called upon ASEAN members to quickly hold the military regime in Myanmar accountable to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) five-point consensus.

During the meeting, Blinken welcomed the appointment by the ministers of the ASEAN of Brunei's second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof as a special envoy to Myanmar.

"I welcomed the selection of Bruneian Second Foreign Minister Erywan as ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar and urged the Special Envoy and ASEAN members to act quickly to hold the military accountable to the Five-Point Consensus and to engage all parties, including pro-democracy leaders," Blinken said in a statement.

"ASEAN's leadership is also needed to address the military coup in Burma. In my meetings this week, I again called for ASEAN to urge the military to end the violence, restore Burma's democratic transition, and release all those unjustly detained," the statement read.

On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests, which were quashed with deadly violence in the country.

The Mekong-US Partnership is part of broader US support for the region's ASEAN-centered architecture and the US vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Blinken said that US encourage ASEAN to take a greater leadership role in addressing Mekong sub-regional challenges such as food security, environmental degradation, and transnational crime as these issues impact all ten maritime and mainland ASEAN states.

In the meeting, the leaders also discussed combating the coronavirus pandemic.

"To combat the prevailing threat of the last two years - COVID-19 - the United States has delivered 8.5 million vaccines and close to USD 60 million in assistance to date to Mekong subregion countries, and we will continue to work closely with local health authorities in pandemic preparedness and mitigation."Blinken said that this coming year, "US can look forward together to expanded engagement on issues that affect not just the Mekong region, but the globe, including women's empowerment, strengthening health systems to prepare for the next pandemic and raising our climate ambition.""The Mekong-US Partnership is putting into action President Biden's view that we can only meet today's accelerating global challenges by working together. As we combat the pandemic and recharge our economies, Mekong-region countries can count on the United States and the Friends of the Mekong," the statement added. (ANI)

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