WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military should relinquish power and release officials and activists detained in this week’s coup, US President Joe Biden said in his first foreign policy address on Thursday. Biden said the United States was working with allies and partners to address the generals’ inauguration, during which they arrested elected leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilians. “There can be no doubt that a democratic force should never attempt to override the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” Biden said. “The Burmese military must renounce the power it has taken and release the defenders, activists and officials they have detained, lift restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence.” Army commander Min Aung Hlaing took power on Monday and said there were irregularities in the November elections that Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide. The electoral commission had said that the vote was fair. A subsequent White House statement said Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone Wednesday night with ambassadors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a 10-member bloc to which Myanmar belongs. which is also known as Burma. “Mr. Sullivan conveyed President Biden’s deep concern regarding the coup in Burma and expressed appreciation for the attention of the ASEAN nations to this crisis, and noted the importance of regional support for the immediate restoration of Burmese democracy.” the statement said. He said Sullivan also underscored the Biden administration’s commitment to expanding the United States’ engagement with ASEAN, including fighting climate change, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting economic recovery and promoting maritime security. Biden on Monday threatened to reimpose sanctions on Myanmar after the coup and said the international community should come together to pressure the military to leave power. He also warned that the United States was “taking note of those who are with the people of Burma in this difficult hour.” Sullivan said in a briefing at the White House Thursday that the administration was considering an executive order in response to the coup and sanctions potentially targeting individuals and entities controlled by the military.
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