ASEAN summit begins without Myanmar after top general barred .

Southeast Asian leaders have begun their annual summit without Myanmar, after its military refused to send a representative to the three-day meeting in protest over the exclusion of its general .

Neither Brunei, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chair, nor the bloc’s secretary-general made a mention of the no-show in opening remarks at Tuesday’s virtual meeting

In an unprecedented move, ASEAN on October 15 agreed to bar Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who toppled a civilian government on February 1, over his failure to implement a peace plan he agreed with ASEAN in April towards ending a bloody political crisis triggered by the coup.

ASEAN is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Myanmar joined in 1997 under a previous military government.

Two diplomats told The Associated Press news agency that Brunei invited Myanmar’s highest-ranking veteran diplomat, Chan Aye, as a “non-political” representative but she did not attend.

After Tuesday’s leaders meeting, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Twitter that he fully supported Brunei’s decision on Myanmar’s representation, while Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha said ASEAN’s dealings with Myanmar were crucial for its reputation and a test of its resolve.

“ASEAN’s constructive role in addressing this situation is of paramount importance and our action on this matter shall have a bearing on ASEAN’s credibility in the eyes of the international community,” Prayuth said, according to his office.

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