A senior United States State Department official said the US is “looking what can be done to both sustain and increase the pressure on the regime to end the grip of violence”.
Myanmar’s military last week defended the execution of the activists as “justice for the people”, brushing off a deluge of international condemnation including by its closest neighbours.
The military said it had executed the activists for aiding “terror acts” by a civilian resistance movement, Myanmar’s first executions in decades.
Myanmar will not be represented at this week’s meeting after its military rulers declined a proposal to send a non-junta representative instead.
ASEAN has since late last year barred the Myanmar junta from joining its meetings due to its lack of progress in implementing the peace plan.
Some other members of ASEAN, which has a tradition of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, have been increasingly strident in their criticism of the generals.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has described the executions as a crime against humanity and appearing to make “a mockery” of the ASEAN peace plan.
“On Myanmar, they’re all furious over last week’s executions and will be looking to prove that ASEAN isn’t completely neutered,” said Greg Poling, director of Southeast Asia Studies at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Still, an Asian diplomat who declined to be identified questioned what new measures ASEAN would be prepared to take.
“The five-point consensus was useful because Myanmar had agreed to it … now, aside from making statements and carrying on humanitarian assistance, can you do anything without Myanmar there? Honestly, I don’t know,” said the diplomat.
Myanmar has been in chaos since last year’s coup, with conflict spreading after the army crushed mostly peaceful protests in towns and cities.
Source: Channel News Asia