WELLINGTON, New Zealand - New Zealand has decided not to attend an upcoming counter-terrorism meeting co-chaired by the militaries of Myanmar and Russia.
The meeting will bring together representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their partners as part of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) Experts' Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, which will be held in Moscow on July 20-21.
"New Zealand will not be attending or participating on this occasion," Michael Swain, deputy secretary of defense policy and planning at the New Zealand Defence Ministry, said in response to an email from a Myanmar newspaper.
"Officials carefully consider such invitations regarding New Zealand's interests." "We concluded that attending the meeting would portray us as supporting Russia and Myanmar's approach," he added.
New Zealand's announcement comes on the heels of Australia's decision to withdraw from the same meeting on June 22.
When contacted by the Myanmar newspaper, defense officials from other countries scheduled to attend the meeting, including India, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, declined to comment on their participation.
The shadow National Unity Government's deputy foreign minister, Moe Zaw Oo, welcomed New Zealand's decision and urged other countries to boycott the event.
"It should not be possible for the terrorist [Myanmar] military to host a counter-terrorism event." "It also doesn't make sense," he added.