Minister: Okay, it has been a very busy day. We started off with an informal briefing by Myanmar State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the situation in Rakhine, then we went into the formal meeting. We have all been busy with a series of bilaterals. I have just come back from a meeting with the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Several themes have emerged. First is that there is obviously concern with the situation in Rakhine State. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's briefing was helpful. It provided additional information. She also reassured us that violence has stopped, although it was acknowledged that there is still movement � displacement of people. So the first point is that of universal consensus. Violence has to stop on all sides. People need to feel safe, people need to feel secure, we must not see this kind of mass displacement, and more importantly, I mean all of us have seen photographs of, you know, unspeakable atrocities that have been committed. This kind of suffering, and especially suffering of women and children is unacceptable in today's world. So that's the first point � violence has to stop, it has to stop now. The second point is that there needs to be dialogue. And what emerged from today's meeting was that clearly there was ongoing discussion between Myanmar and Bangladesh. They haven't concluded yet but at least it seems that they are moving in a positive direction, which gives some hope that you can get a medium-term, if not a long-term solution to this. Now of course, the long-term solution requires actually a difficult process of long-term reconciliation, and that's easier said than done. It requires trust to be built, it requires acceptance, it requires really good faith on all sides. And this is something which cannot be imposed externally. It is something that has to occur at the domestic level. And quite frankly, it's Myanmar's responsibility to deal with this. Another element that emerged is that all parties � ASEAN, for one, the EU and various other countries � are committed to providing humanitarian assistance, and for that humanitarian assistance to reach all the communities.
So, there's some, I would say, some glimmers that some progress can be made, if good faith and trust can emerge on all sides. I had a good meeting with the Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. We discussed at the strategic level, the ongoing economic restructuring in Myanmar, because clearly what people want are jobs. They want a sense that there's growth � there's growth for everyone, there are jobs, and there's hope for a better future for their children. That's one key element that Myanmar needs. Another element we discussed was the need for national reconciliation and peace. It's not just in Rakhine State, but even the other ethnic armed groups. And this is needed if Myanmar's economic transformation and upliftment is going to be fully achieved. And, of course, we also discussed the situation in Rakhine State, the need for both security as well as reconciliation, a sense of security for all the communities, and the fact that ASEAN stands ready to deliver humanitarian assistance whilst this process of reparation, of repair of relations, and trust gets built up. So it's a complex problem. It's not going to be solved in a hurry, but looking at the suffering and the displacement, this has to be handled urgently, it has to be handled sensitively and effectively. So that's where there's still a long way to go.
CNA: Was the issue of an independent investigation even broached by the European Union, for example?
Minister: There were a couple of interventions along those lines. But State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi explained that first, they're committed to fulfilling the Kofi Annan recommendations and in a sense that committee has already done its work, has been on the ground. She is also appointing another group. I think I'll leave her to announce the names of the people on that panel, who will also do their own analysis, assessment of the situation and recommendations. I think Myanmar needs time. It needs time, it needs space, it needs support in order to deal with this very difficult situation. It's been going on for 50 or 150 years. It's not going to resolve overnight. But we have to stop human suffering. That's the main, the key message, and the key priority for all of us.
CNA: Can you briefly talk to us about the repatriation process as well. At the moment, it seems rather dim in terms of bringing them back as soon as possible.
Minister: Well, I can't go into details on that. Like I said, the first element to that is the negotiations between Myanmar and Bangladesh. And I think if they can arrive at a consensus and an agreement, then that process can begin. But the two key players are really Myanmar and Bangladesh, so we have to support them and wait for them to resolve. I met both. I met the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Mahmud Ali as well. He seems relatively positive, but you know in the nature of negotiations nothing is settled until everything is settled.
CNA: Thank you. Thanks, Minister.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore