Southeast Asian leaders will try to persuade Myanmar's junta to end violence and let in aid at a summit today, diplomats said, in the first concerted international effort to ease the crisis in the country.
Leaders will meet behind closed doors at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the hope of encouraging candid discussions, two diplomatic sources told Reuters.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar's junta chief who ousted the civilian government on Feb. 1, is likely to attend, officials and diplomats in the host nation have said.
The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the February coup, with almost daily protests and a crackdown by the junta in which hundreds of people have been killed.
Initiatives being considered by Asean include a pause in violence to allow medical and food supplies into Myanmar, and the appointment of a special envoy to encourage dialogue between the military regime and its opponents in the rival National Unity Government (NUG), the sources said.
No nations outside of Asean will be present at the talks, although some of the participating nations and the UN special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, will hold meetings on the sidelines of the event, they added.
A spokesman for the NUG, formed by ousted lawmakers and some ethnic groups opposed to the junta, told Reuters the group had "been in contact with Asean leaders", but had not been officially invited to the summit.
Asean's members include Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. All leaders of the block, except the Philippines president, will attend the meet.
The junta has called the NUG an unlawful organisation.
Ahead of the meeting, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Thursday that China hoped the upcoming summit would pave the way for a "soft landing".
"The Chinese side expects the meeting to lead to a good start towards helping realise a 'soft landing' for the Myanmar situation," said Wang, China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister.
He was speaking with Thailand and Brunei's foreign ministers, the current and incoming Asean chairs, respectively.