ASEAN summit opens, with Myanmar situation on agenda

The leaders of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, have gathered in Indonesia for a summit to discuss matters including how to deal with the security crisis in Myanmar.

The two-day summit opened in Labuan Bajo on Wednesday. Timor-Leste's Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak is attending for the first time as an observer, as his country's membership was approved in principle last year. The country was formerly known as East Timor.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the chair of ASEAN this year, said the bloc can become the driver of peace or growth only if there is unity.

The leaders discussed a roadmap for Timor-Leste's planned membership in the bloc.

They also condemned in a statement Sunday's attack by unknown assailants on a convoy of diplomats and aid workers including those from ASEAN members delivering relief supplies in Myanmar.

The leaders are expected to discuss on Thursday how to have the country's ruling military implement a five-point peace consensus agreed on by ASEAN. The 2021 consensus includes an immediate halt to violence and brokering of dialogue between the junta and prodemocracy groups in Myanmar.

The security situation in the country is deteriorating. Over 160 people, including many children, were killed in the military's airstrikes last month.