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Practical, realistic steps key to constructive Myanmar dialogue: Sokhonn

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Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn.

Practical, realistic steps key to constructive Myanmar dialogue: Sokhonn

Practical and realistic steps must be taken to build constructive dialogue over the ongoing Myanmar coup standoff, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn affirmed on October 15.

Sokhonn was addressing an emergency virtual meeting of the ASEAN foreign ministers called to address the ruling junta’s reluctance to abide by a five-point peace roadmap – reached by the bloc in April – on how to tackle Myanmar’s complex and ever-deepening political crisis.

The meeting comes a day after the junta announced that an ASEAN special envoy had abruptly cancelled a visit to Myanmar scheduled for this month after the military administration refused to allow him to meet ousted elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The bloc appointed Bruneian second foreign minister Erywan Yusof as its special envoy to try to facilitate political dialogue.

But Sokhonn emphasised to his ASEAN counterparts that it is crucial that Erywan visit Myanmar sooner rather than later, calling “for practical and realistic steps to be taken so as to engender a constructive dialogue among relevant parties in Myanmar crisis”, the Cambodian foreign ministry said in a statement on October 15.

During the meeting, the bloc’s foreign ministers exchanged views on the developments in Myanmar and the progress of the Erywan’s work concerning the implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.

“The ministers encouraged Nay Pyi Taw to facilitate a fruitful visit to Myanmar by the special envoy on an early date.

“The ministers had an extensive and in-depth discussion on ASEAN Community building efforts, enhancement of engagement with external partners and on ensuring successful preparation and outcomes for the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and its Related Summits scheduled to take place on 26-28 October 2021,” the statement said.

However, the meeting decided that Myanmar junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing would not be invited to the summits, sources told Reuters.

ASEAN chair Brunei on October 16 said a “non-political representative from Myanmar” would be invited to the events, without elaborating further.

Myanmar has been embroiled in political and civil strife since the junta ousted Suu Kyi in a February 1 putsch, bringing the country’s 10-year experiment with democracy to a sudden halt, and triggering a tide of fury and protests that persist to date, pushing some civilians to form armed groups to take on the military.

Local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported on October 15 that 1,178 people have been killed by the junta and 7,341 have been arrested, charged or sentenced.

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