Indonesia says ‘positive’ signs from Myanmar’s warring camps on dialogue effort

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesia said on Friday it had hosted a meeting of some of the key stakeholders in the conflict in military-ruled Myanmar at which each gave a “positive indication” about holding inclusive dialogue soon.

The Nov. 20-22 meeting in Jakarta included pro-democracy groups, ethnic minority armies and a shadow National Unity Government (NUG), but the junta was not present, instead represented by “interlocutors”, Indonesia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.

As outgoing chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia is pushing for dialogue between rival camps in a bloody crisis triggered by the military’s coup against Myanmar’s elected government in 2021. Little progress has been made so far.

Fighting has escalated of late, with an alliance of ethnic minority insurgents launching coordinated attacks on military posts in several border states, emboldening militias to do the same elsewhere, presenting the biggest battlefield challenge to the junta since the coup.

The United Nations says more than 2 million people have been displaced by the post-coup violence.

The objective of the meeting, Indonesia said, was to enable inclusive talks, reduce violence, and support humanitarian efforts, in line with a “five-point consensus” agreed to by Myanmar’s military soon after the coup.

“The office of the special envoy also facilitated the exchanges of ‘messages’ from each group that were expected to pave the way for a possible preliminary dialogue,” the statement said.

“Upon receiving the respective messages, stakeholders indicated positive indication on the possibility of convening dialogues in an inclusive and genuine manner soon.”

Indonesia has been quietly engaging various parties but has said progress has been impaired by some insisting on preconditions for talks.

ASEAN has barred the generals from attending its summits until they implement the ASEAN peace plan. The bloc has been divided by the issue and patience with the junta has worn thin.

The military has accused the NUG of backing a resistance movement it says are “terrorists” that it refuses to engage. A spokesperson for the junta could not immediately be reached for comment on the Indonesian talks.

A spokesperson for the NUG said it was committed to genuine dialogue, “but the military has no place in our political future. The armed forces must be made subordinate to a civilian government.”

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by William Maclean)