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France urges Myanmar's Suu Kyi to speak strongly for end to Rakhine violence

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FILE PHOTO: People displaced by violence walk in the banks of Mayu river with their belongings while moving to another village, in Buthidaung in the north of Rakhine state, Myanmar September 13, 2017.

NEW YORK - France urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to issue a strong statement this week for a cessation of military violence against civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and said the situation there required a collective international response.

The military response to insurgent attacks last month in the western region of Myanmar sent more than 410,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, escaping what the United Nations has branded as ethnic cleansing.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has faced a barrage of criticism from abroad for not stopping the violence. She is due to speak to the nation on Tuesday about the crisis, which the United States has described as a “defining moment” for her country.

“The crisis cannot leave anybody indifferent; this situation needs a collective response from the international community and we reiterate our call for the cessation of violence against civilian populations,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said in New York on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders.

“We ask for the Myanmar security forces to ensure their protection and to re-establish a secure humanitarian access,” Le Drian told reporters. “We expect from Mrs Aung Sang Suu Kyi tomorrow a strong statement in this direction.”

On Monday, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was due to chair a ministerial meeting to discuss ways to resolve the Rohingya crisis, with the meeting expected to be attended by representatives of countries including the United States and Australia.

China, which, like the United States has worked to forge closer ties with Myanmar, a strategically important country in Southeast Asia, will not attend, a Chinese spokesman said, citing “a really packed calendar” for Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

U.S.-Myanmar ties improved after the military began withdrawing from government in 2011, and paved the way for a 2015 election won by Suu Kyi’s party. But the military retains a strong hand in government and remains responsible for security.

Washington has called for the protection of civilians, and a deputy assistant secretary of state, Patrick Murphy, is due in Myanmar this week.

A Trump administration official told Reuters last week the violence made it harder to build warmer ties with Myanmar, and there would likely be some “easing” in the short term, but he did not expect a return to sanctions.

For years, the United States and Western allies imposed sanctions on Myanmar in support of Suu Kyi’s campaign for democracy. Myanmar’s response was to forge closer ties with China.

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Muslim Global: France urges Myanmar's Suu Kyi to speak strongly for end to Rakhine violence
France urges Myanmar's Suu Kyi to speak strongly for end to Rakhine violence
France urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to issue a strong statement this week for a cessation of military violence against civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and said the situation there required a collective international response.
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