ASEAN


Visiting Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw said yesterday that his country agreed to consider becoming a full member of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Xinhua reported on 26 October.

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Kanbawza Bank (KBZ Bank), Myanmar’s largest private bank, has opened a representative office in Singapore as part of efforts to expand its footprint into Southeast Asia. It already has an overseas base in Thailand and intends to open another representative office in Malaysia by the end of December.

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Myanmar is likely to be the fifth Asean country to sign up for the Asean Power Grid formed by Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, energy ministers have said.

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Burma, China, Thailand and Laos have opened a forward command of an operations centre for criminal suppression and prevention on the Mekong River in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province.

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Indonesia has entered an agreement with Myanmar to buy 300,000 tons of rice from the latter, more than half the amount of 500,000 tons that Myanmar reserves for export, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation Monday.

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Japan has pledged 135 billion yen (US$1.33 billion) to Myanmar as its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi held bilateral talks yesterday on the sidelines of the ASEAN summits and related meetings in Vientiane, Laos.

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The 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and related meetings begin today in Vientiane, Laos, with a host of regional leaders attending the events, including a Myanmar delegation led by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

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For State Councillor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, the upcoming visit to China (17-19 August) will be the most significant foreign trip ever for her country since the National league of Democracy took power last November. For the first time in sixty years since the U Nu government, Myanmar is now engaging with China as a democratic country.

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A new sense of pragmatism on all sides bodes well for the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi—Burma’s state counselor and foreign affairs minister—to China later this week, says Bangkok-based expert on Asean affairs Kavi Chongkittavorn, in an interview with The Irrawaddy’s founding editor Aung Zaw.

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ASEAN unity may be under severe strain, but Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from her first ministerial meeting without a scratch on her international reputation, according to analysts, who praised the leader’s diplomacy.

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Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi will attend her first ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting from Sunday (Jul 24).

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In the face of the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar, ASEAN cannot continue to look the other way, according to political analysts.

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Energy officials will seek to better connect ASEAN members’ electricity grids into a regional energy network over the next five years to better utilise the countries’ respective strengths and weaknesses in power generation, it was announced at a meeting of the bloc in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw.

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Myanmar will host the 34th ASEAN Energy Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Nay Pyi Taw on July 12-15, according to an announcement of Electric Power and Energy Ministry Thursday.

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On 23 June, Aung San Suu Kyi visited Thailand for the first time after her party won a landslide victory in the late November election. During her three-day visit, Aung San Suu Kyi met with the Burmese migrant workers across Thailand in Mahachai, the Thai military Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and the Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

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Aung San Suu Kyi will land in Bangkok for the first time since her triumphant 2015 election victory on June 23. Her Thai military hosts know something about elections: They tend not to respect their outcomes.

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After Aung San Suu Kyi lands in Bangkok on June 23 for a three-day visit, her first destination will not be Government House, but Mahachai, a district best known for seafood, 16km south of Bangkok. This coastal town has come to symbolize the Thailand-Myanmar relationship for decades. It has been the backdrop to media stories about human trafficking and slave labor as well as human rights abuses. During her first visit there in November 2012, Suu Kyi pledged to help the workers and urged them to fight for their rights.

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Rights groups are calling on the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make greater progress in settling about 7,000 Muslim Myanmar refugees a year after they were rescued after being abandoned at sea by traffickers.

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Ever since the electoral triumph of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar, speculation has been growing about its foreign policy — how much continuity and change will occur — under the new government relative to its predecessors.

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Lee Hsien Loong has asked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to use her high profile in the international community to boost the status of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during a visit to Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday.

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