Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi plans to travel to Bangkok to attend this weekend’s summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, at which the Rohingya refugee crisis is expected to be a topic for serious discussion.
State-run media reported Tuesday that Suu Kyi will be attending the summit at the invitation of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is hosting the two-day event as chair of the 10-member grouping this year.
According to the draft of a chairman’s statement to be issued at the end of the summit, ASEAN leaders will reaffirm their desire to facilitate the safe, secure and dignified return of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to Myanmar’s Rakhine State from which they fled.
In apparent preparation for the summit, Suu Kyi, within a one-month period leading up to the ASEAN summit, has met with the diplomats of fellow member countries such as Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi.
ASEAN also includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
At her May 27 talks with Lim in Naypyitaw, the capital, they discussed possible areas of collaboration between Myanmar and ASEAN in resolving the humanitarian situation in Rakhine, from which more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled since August last year amid allegations of atrocities committed by the security forces.
Suu Kyi attended the last ASEAN summit, an informal retreat held in April in Singapore, though she skipped a formal ASEAN summit held the previous November in the city-state.
Suu Kyi has been under fire internationally over her tepid response to the plight of the Rohingya. Among ASEAN members, Malaysia has been particularly critical of her failure to protect them.
Aside from Rohingya issue, the foreign ministers will also discuss the South China Sea situation, including negotiations between ASEAN and China on crafting a code of conduct to manage tensions those disputed waters.