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(Reuters) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will fly to Myanmar on Thursday in the first known trip to the Southeast Asian nation by a foreign envoy since the military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, according to a leaked government document.

The letter from the Ministry of Transport, which a Myanmar official confirmed to Reuters was authentic, said she would arrive in the morning and fly back several hours later.

Tengku Faizasyah, a spokesman for the Indonesian foreign ministry, said the minister was in Thailand and may travel to other countries in the region afterwards, but could not confirm which.

Retno has been rallying support in Southeast Asia for a special meeting on Myanmar and sources said Jakarta has proposed the region sends monitors to ensure the generals hold “fair and inclusive” elections.

Myanmar’s ruling military council, which has deposed and arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi and most of her government, has said it would hold new elections and hand power to the victor, but has not set a timetable for the ballot.

A Reuters report on Monday detailing the election monitoring proposal sparked anger from protesters in Myanmar, some of whom rallied outside the Indonesian embassy in Yangon on Tuesday.

The proposal of sending election monitors to Myanmar is one of several pushed by Indonesia.

Others include facilitating dialogue between the junta and its opponents and setting up an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) taskforce to support a roadmap to “democratic transition”, the sources said.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; writing by Poppy McPherson; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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Asia Today: India expands its vaccination drive

NEW DELHI (AP) — India has expanded its COVID-19 vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk.

Those now eligible to be vaccinated include people older than 60, as well as those over 45 who have ailments such as heart disease or diabetes that make them vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness. The shots will be given for free at government hospitals and will also be sold at over 10,000 private hospitals at a fixed price of 250 rupees, or $3.40, per shot.

Among the first to be inoculated on Monday was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, who is 70, got the shot at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science. He appealed for all to get vaccinated, tweeting afterward, “together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people started one of the world’s largest vaccination drives in January, but the rollout has been sluggish.

New coronavirus infections are increasing again after months of consistent decline, and scientists have detected worrisome variants of the virus that they fear could hasten infections or render vaccines or treatments less useful. Vaccinating more people is a priority, with India’s Health Ministry on Sunday urging states “not to lower their guard” and “squander away the gains of the collective hard work of the last year.”

India has recorded more than 11 million cases, second in the world behind the United States, with over 157,000 deaths in the country from COVID-19.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

— The Philippines has launched a vaccination campaign to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. The drive, however, faces supply problems and public resistance. Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals Monday in Metropolitan Manila, after President Rodrigo Duterte and other top officials received 600,000 doses on Sunday of COVID-19 vaccine donated by China. The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive its first batch of vaccine due to delivery delays even though it has reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back Manila’s economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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