New Delhi: The foreign ministers of the Quad grouping of India, the US, Australia and Japan on Friday expressed grave concerns over the crisis in Myanmar and called for an end to violence and the release of all those detained arbitrarily.

The situation in Myanmar came up for discussion at a meeting in Melbourne attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australia’s Marise Payne.

At a joint media briefing, Jaishankar said that India shares land borders with Myanmar and it has some very specific concerns that also guided its thinking on the developments in that country, and asserted that New Delhi does not follow a policy of national sanctions.

“I think we have all agreed on the importance of the democratic transition which was underway in Myanmar and clearly the fact that the country has moved in a different direction is something that troubles all of us. We also, I think, very strongly backed the ASEAN position on Myanmar,” he said.

On February 1 last year, Myanmar’s military grabbed power in a coup and imposed a state of emergency after detaining Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD). The country witnessed massive protests following the coup.

“As an immediate land border neighbour, we have some very specific concerns on Myanmar which also guides our thinking,” Jaishankar added.

In this context, he referred to India’s concerns relating to the insurgency in the northeastern region.

He flagged “concerns about insurgents operating there who some months ago killed a very senior military officer and his family”. He also raised “concerns about COVID-19 and lack of vaccination on our common border, concerns about the humanitarian situation which is arising from food shortage”.

“So those are also concerns which we take into account and we do not follow a policy of national sanctions,” he said.

A joint statement issued after the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting called for the release of all those detained arbitrarily, including foreigners, besides demanding unhindered humanitarian access to Myanmar.

“We remain gravely concerned about the crisis in Myanmar and call for an end to violence, the release of all those arbitrarily detained, including foreigners, and unhindered humanitarian access,” a joint statement issued after the talks stated.

At the media briefing, Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed anguish over the situation in Myanmar.

“I think it is painfully obvious that the developments there are deeply troubling to all of us. We very much support the ASEAN’s five-point consensus. We need to see it implemented,” Blinken said.

In December, Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years of imprisonment by a court in Myanmar after holding her guilty of inciting dissent. Her sentence was later reduced from four years to two years.

Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and it shares a 1,640 kilometre-long border with a number of northeastern states, including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.

India has been concerned over some militant groups from the Northeast region taking shelter in Myanmar.

An official of the Assam Rifles and his wife were killed in an ambush in Churachandpur district of Manipur in November.

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