Myanmar’s Junta is boycotting the Summit in response to the snub.

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Myanmar’s Junta is boycotting the Summit in response to the snub.

Myanmar’s junta canceled a Southeast Asian conference on Tuesday after its leader was barred from attending, escalating the regime’s isolation nine months after a deadly takeover.

The virtual meeting marked the start of three days of meetings held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will include US President Joe Biden, as well as Chinese and Russian leaders.

Myanmar was at the top of the agenda at Tuesday’s regional leaders’ meeting, with the country mired in upheaval following the military takeover in February and the accompanying violent crackdown on dissent.

Faced with calls to defuse the crisis, ASEAN — which includes Myanmar — has drafted a roadmap aimed at restoring peace, but the junta’s adherence to the plan has been questioned.

The group barred junta commander Min Aung Hlaing from this week’s summit after it refused to let a special envoy meet with ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar’s brief trial with democracy was snuffed out by the coup, and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is now facing a slew of charges in a junta court that may land her in prison for decades.

The 76-year-old, who has been a thorn in the side of the generals for years, was scheduled to speak in court for the first time on Tuesday in a closed-door hearing from which the media was prohibited.

Min Aung Hlaing’s exclusion from the Southeast Asian summit was a first for an organization that has been chastised for its lack of clout.

The decision was criticized by the junta as a violation of the bloc’s non-interference stance in member states’ affairs.

In his stead, a top official from the junta-appointed foreign ministry was invited by the 10-member delegation.

On the eve of the conference, however, the government stated that sending a lower-ranking official would “damage our country’s sovereignty and reputation.”

A large screen displayed the leaders attending the summit at the start, but where the country’s delegate was supposed to be, there was only a blue display with the word “Myanmar” on it.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, one of several ASEAN leaders who have come out firmly against the coup, bemoaned that “progress has been slow” in the aftermath of Myanmar’s military takeover.

“This has genuine ramifications for Myanmar’s people and ASEAN’s reputation as a rules-based organization,” he said during the Brunei meeting.

While some have praised the group’s move to ban the junta commander, many believe it is doubtful that the bloc will go farther, such as suspending Myanmar.

And they believe there is a slim likelihood of making a decision in this case. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

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