Prime Minister Hun Sen considered the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Phnom Penh as having built a successful foundation for achieving positive results at the November ASEAN Summit – which Cambodia will host – as well as the G20 group of developing nations’ conference in Indonesia and the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Thailand.
Hun Sen thanked the “friendly” countries who attended the meeting in Cambodia, including the six countries which signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) – Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. He appreciated their participation, saying it had enabled the Kingdom to successfully host the 55th AMM and related meetings.
At the August 17 University of Puthisastra graduation ceremony, he said: “The [AMM] formed the base for success at the upcoming ASEAN, G20 and APEC summits. The base was established right here in Phnom Penh.”
The premier commended the authorities which provided security for both the ministers from ASEAN and world powers who attended the meetings. He also singled out Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn for special praise and highlighted the work of the unseen officials who facilitated the documents required for the meetings.
He said he was proud that at a time when the world was in conflict, Cambodia had invited all parties to sit down and discuss the issues.
Hun Sen pointed out that many controversial things were taking place at the time the Kingdom hosted the meetings, including the issue of Myanmar and the continued push for an end to the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. Other contentious issues, such as tension in the Korean Peninsula, the Ukraine conflict and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan, were also on the table, he noted.
The premier said that initially, the foreign ministers of some countries did not want to be seated near one another in the meeting room because of conflict in Europe. In several cases, Cambodian officials had encouraged those ministers to shake hands and enjoy frank discussions. This was another way in which the meetings were a success.
“I am particularly pleased that – thanks to excellent facilitation by senior ministers – the attendees were able to come together and issue a joint statement,” he said.
“When countries which are at loggerheads come together and do this, it is never easy. Even though it was difficult, we managed to make it happen,” he added.
Hun Sen will attend the upcoming G20 and APEC meetings. And in September, he is slated to address the UN General Assembly in person.
Yang Peou, a professor of political science and secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the AMM was attended by a large number of ASEAN countries as well as powerful partners of ASEAN, and he regarded them as fruitful. They had received praise from attendees, he added.
“Overall, I would assess that the meetings are a good indicator ahead of the November ASEAN Summit,” he told The Post on August 17.
“ASEAN is also celebrating the 45th anniversary of the ASEAN-US Summit, so this November might be a good time to consider integrating ASEAN-US relations into a comprehensive strategic partnership.”
Peou added that ASEAN – established in August 1967 by the Bangkok declaration – was initially a regional organisation based on political ideology. It had grown into a strong bloc, now based on the ASEAN Charter and the bloc’s principles and unity.
“We can safely say that ASEAN is now an organisation that powerful nations like China and the US cannot afford to overlook,” he added.