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Indonesia FM to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh over Rakhine situation

Teary One of the Somali pirate hostage survivors, Elson Pesireron (left), hugs his family member as teary Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi (right) witnesses in Jakarta on Monday. (Antara/Rivan Awal Lingga)

By Tama Salim
December 17, 2016

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi will embark on a two-day mission to Myanmar and Bangladesh in search of a lasting solution for the dire situation in Rakhine state, especially regarding the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

She said she will depart for Myanmar ahead of an informal meeting with her ASEAN counterparts on Monday, before heading out to Dhaka to meet with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali on Tuesday.

"On Dec. 19, at the invitation of the Myanmar State Counsellor [Aung San Suu Kyi], ASEAN foreign ministers will meet in Yangon for a retreat to discuss the situation in Rakhine state," Retno told reporters in Jakarta late on Friday.

"It is our hope that the Myanmar government will provide details on the developments in Rakhine. Receiving updates directly from the State Counsellor is a good start."

The ASEAN response, a first for the bloc, has been in the works since Retno's tête-à-tête with Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on Dec. 6, and was further consolidated after a senior officials meeting in Bali.

After concluding Monday's retreat, the minister said she would leave for Dhaka where she would be meeting with Minister Mahmood Ali the next day to discuss the Rohingya situation.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, the country's de facto leader, has been the object of growing international criticism for her perceived lack of action to stop the mil­i­tary’s al­leged persecution of the country’s Ro­hingya Mus­lim mi­nor­ity.

More than 20,000 Ro­hingya have fled over the bor­der to Bangladesh, re­port­ing that Rohingyas have been the victims of rape, mur­der and ar­son. Their claims have been de­nied by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

The mil­i­tary’s crack­down fol­lowed at­tacks on Oct. 9 by Ro­hingyan militants on po­lice posts along the Myan­mar bor­der with Bangladesh, leav­ing nine of­fi­cers dead.

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