Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that he will undertake a two-day visit to Myanmar on January 7-8 in an effort aimed at restoring normality to ASEAN proceedings by finding a way to calm the crisis there and bring the country back into the fold for the bloc’s future summits.
Hun Sen set the date during his meeting with Myanmar’s foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin on December 7.
Eang Sophalleth, the prime minister’s assistant, told reporters after the meeting that Hun Sen and Wunna Maung Lwin had discussed issues related to ASEAN and finding a way for the bloc to return to its previous state of friendly cooperation and solidarity.
According to Sophalleth, the foreign minister delivered a letter from General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of the ruling State Administration Council (SAC), inviting Hun Sen to visit Myanmar on the agreed upon dates.
“In response, [Hun Sen] accepted the invitation and told [Wunna Maung Lwin] that he will visit on the suggested dates,” Sophalleth said.
Hun Sen on December 6 said he would meet Min Aung Hlaing in the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw to find a solution to the country’s ongoing crisis so that it could return to the ASEAN fold and attend future meetings with all members. He said the solution can only be found though dialogue with those who hold power in Myanmar currently.
General Min Aung Hlaing is widely of carrying out a “military coup” against the civilian government of the predominantly Buddhist country, which was headed by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi was recently sentenced to four years in prison on charges widely viewed as being politically motivated in origin and intent.
The recent ASEAN summit chaired by Brunei was held virtually without Myanmar’s participation because of their lack of engagement or progress with ASEAN’s five-point consensus plans for ending the crisis.
During his time in Phnom Penh, Wunna Maung Lwin also held talks with his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhonn on bilateral relations and ASEAN centrality.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Wunna Maung Lwin congratulated Cambodia as the incoming chair of ASEAN in 2022 and expressed its full support for the Kingdom’s priorities and deliverables.
“While appreciating the results of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in April, Myanmar also looks forward to welcoming and coordinating with the Special Envoy of the ASEAN chair towards fulfilling the five-point consensus, including improving humanitarian relief delivery,” the ministry said.
Wunna Maung Lwin also said Myanmar appreciated the Kingdom’s assistance in fighting Covid-19, while Sokhonn thanked Myanmar for vaccinating Cambodians living there.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said Hun Sen’s visit will be an important step politically towards resolving the crisis.
He said the visit – put together immediately upon Cambodia’s taking up the ASEAN chair – shows the will and intent of the Kingdom in contributing to finding a political solution to the crisis in Myanmar in order to bring Naypyidaw back into ASEAN’s good graces.
“Cambodia has a lot of experience with divisions, strife and civil war that is not much different from the current situation in Myanmar. [Hun Sen] is a wily strategist and a veteran diplomat who will be able to share with Myanmar the lessons that Cambodia had to learn the hard way and provide good practical advice for ending this crisis,” Phea said.