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Invitation for Myanmar: All BIMSTEC members have to be invited says Colambage

Buddhist monks display placards during a protest march against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has become the newest villain for Myanmarese fighting for democracy in their country against the military junta which seized power expelling the elected government on February 1.

Last week the Foreign Minister Gunawardena in a letter invited Myanmar’s Foreign Minister under the military junta Wunna Maung Lwin to attend the ministerial meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) that would be hosted virtually on April 1, in Colombo.

“The 17th ministerial meeting will greatly benefit from your Excellency’s valued participation, and I look forward to our close engagement over the course of the meeting,” the letter by Foreign Minister Gunawardena said.

Issuing a statement to clarify the matter, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said Sri Lanka as the Chair of the BIMSTEC and the host of the Ministerial Meeting has invited all Member States (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand) to participate in the discussions in order to finalize documents of the 5th BIMSTEC Summit expected to be held later this year in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to The Hindu yesterday, Secretary to the Foreign Ministry Admiral (Rtd) Jayanath Colombage said Sri Lanka has invited the incumbent Foreign Ministers of all the fellow BIMSTEC members — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Thailand.

“Our invitation to the incumbent Foreign Minister of Myanmar is only within the ambit of BIMSTEC. Unless BIMSTEC expels Myanmar, Sri Lanka has no mandate to exclude them,” he was quoted as saying.

Colombage had said that the government was yet to decide on its position on the junta takeover in Myanmar as Sri Lanka is busy battling with the UN Human Rights Council session. (Colombo/Mar11/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe Edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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