BANGKOK – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to visit Myanmar on Wednesday to meet with the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the Rohingya crisis.
Tillerson is slated to arrive in Naypyidaw to meet with members of the Myanmar government and the armed forces to propose actions and address the humanitarian crisis in the State of Rakhine and to offer US support in the democratic transition of the Asian country.
The top US diplomat will travel from Manila, where the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) culminated on Tuesday.
In a meeting with Suu Kyi in the Philippine capital, Tillerson had raised the need to end violence and find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
“(Tillerson) express concerns over the violence and insecurity affecting the Rohingya and other local populations and discuss ways to help (Myanmar) end the crisis and chart a productive way forward,” a State Department spokesperson told reporters in Manila on Tuesday.
In Manila, Suu Kyi also met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who demanded a guaranteed access of humanitarian aid in Rakhine and the safe and voluntary return of refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since the conflict broke out on Aug. 25.
More than 600,000 people have fled to the neighboring Bangladesh after the army launched an offensive in the north of the western Rakhine State in response to the attacks by a group of Rohingya insurgents on security posts in late August.
The Myanmar army denied abuses against the Rohingyas, including murders and rapes, during its operations in Rakhine, despite the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights terming the situation “ethnic cleansing.”
In Naypyidaw, Tillerson will also meet with the head of the armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing.
The US lifted sanctions against Myanmar after the last military junta dissolved and transferred the power to a civilian government, which was made up of former generals who initiated a process of democratic reforms in 2011.
Suu Kyi took up the reins of the government in 2016 after her party National League for Democracy won a landslide victory, the first free elections in the country after half a century of military regime.