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ASEAN leaders reach consensus on ending violence in Myanmar

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Myanmar's security forces have used force to try and quell the pro-democracy protests with hundreds killed in the crackdown

The general attended a high-level summit Saturday with leaders from the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss Myanmar's mounting crisis.

The meeting was attended by junta leader Min Aung Hlaing who has become the focus of worldwide outrage over a military coup and crackdown that has left more than 700 dead.

The five items made no mention of releasing Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

Initiatives being considered by ASEAN include a pause in violence to allow medical and food supplies into Myanmar, and the appointment of a special envoy to encourage dialogue between the military regime and its opponents in the rival National Unity Government (NUG), the sources said.

"This is not an internal matter for Myanmar but a major human rights and humanitarian crisis which is impacting the entire region and beyond", said Emerlynne Gil of Amnesty International ahead of Saturday's summit.

"The violence must be stopped and democracy, stability and peace in Myanmar must be restored", President Joko Widodo said. It asked for the "immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar" and urged all parties to "exercise utmost restraint", but omitted the demand voiced by Widodo and other leaders for the immediate release of political detainees. He told local media that Min Aung Hlaing said at the meeting that he was not opposed to a visit by an ASEAN delegation or humanitarian assistance.

But he said follow through would be something to monitor. No one was arrested, witnesses said.

Myanmar's deposed ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, who drew global praise for denouncing the coup in a remarkable speech before the U.N. General Assembly in February, pleaded with ASEAN to prioritize civilians.

"The commitment of leaders to meet physically is a reflection of a deep concern about the situation in Myanmar and ASEAN's determination to help Myanmar get out of this delicate situation", Marsudi said at a news conference.

Small protests outside the bloc's Jakarta headquarters were dispersed by security personnel.

In commercial hub Yangon, some residents staged a mock funeral for the senior general by smashing saffron-coloured clay pots on the ground, symbolic of cutting ties with the dead.

Aside from Myanmar, the regional bloc groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Meetings that contribute to a solution to the deepening crisis in Myanmar are welcome", the latter said in a statement. "The interests of the people of Myanmar must always be the priority".

The lawmakers called on the junta to "stop murdering civilians", release more than 3,000 political prisoners and return power to the country's democratically elected government.

No nations outside of ASEAN will be present at the talks, although some of the participating nations and the U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, will hold meetings on the sidelines of the event, they added.

"We have to be realistic here". The summit was his first trip outside Myanmar since the coup.

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