Cambodia says Myanmar junta not invited to next ASEAN meeting
Myanmar’s military government will not be invited to a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers later this month, VOA Khmer reported Wednesday, citing a Cambodian Foreign Ministry official.
The Myanmar junta made little progress in implementing a consensus agreed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to stop violence, Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry was quoted as saying in the report. ASEAN member states “find it hard to reach a consensus” to invite Myanmar’s foreign minister and the country has been asked to send a non-political representative instead on Feb. 16-17, he added.
The comments come after the U.S. slapped fresh sanctions on entities and individuals linked to the the military regime in Myanmar a day before the one-year anniversary of the Feb. 1 coup. President Joe Biden has warned that further costs will be imposed as long as the junta doesn’t hold elections soon while the military regime is sticking to a plan for August 2023.
Cambodia, as the rotating chair of ASEAN, has tried to push for more engagement with Myanmar with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying the junta has a right to attend the meetings after its leader Min Aung Hlaing was blocked by member states from a big ticket summit last year.
Myanmar refused to send a non-political representative then and skipped the summit.
“We understand Cambodia urged other ASEAN member states to invite the Myanmar government to this foreign ministers’ retreat but some countries continued to insist that only non-political representative should be invited,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said by phone. The military government hasn’t formally received news of the decision, he added.
Myanmar was willing to receive Prak Sokhonn as the ASEAN chair’s new special envoy to the country ahead of the retreat “if they prefer,” Zaw Min Tun said. Myanmar is grappling with an economic crisis as the military attempts to crush armed resistance from ethnic groups as well as pro-democracy protests.
Earlier this week the junta extended the state of emergency for building stability in the country. The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” at this decision and has reiterated calls for the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from jail where she is serving time for a slew of charges.