US and Cambodian officials have discussed pathway to a solution to the Myanmar crisis in an effort to reinstate the path to democracy, as the rising issues in the country appeared to be ongoing.

US Department of State deputy assistant secretary Melissa Brown told journalists on December 15 during her visit to Cambodia that regarding the regional issue, she and Cambodian officials talked about ASEAN, not only with regard to Cambodia’s time as ASEAN chair in 2022, but looking ahead to its role as the country coordinator for US-ASEAN dialogue relations.

Brown met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sok Chenda Sophea and Sun Chanthol, deputy prime minister and first vice-president of the Council of the Development of Cambodia (CDC), on December 14.

“The talks included topics like the crisis in Myanmar and how we can work together to restore that country to a path to democracy and stop the violence and also ensure that we can continue to work with ASEAN in a positive fashion,” Brown said during a press roundtable discussion organised by the US embassy in Phnom Penh.

In response to a question from The Post regarding the Myanmar crisis, Brown said it is a very complex situation in Myanmar, and it will require many different countries, many different organisations to resolve. She added that it will take ASEAN and the UN, as well as individual countries, to take action and restore the path to democracy. 

“With Cambodia, we can talk through what we see as the challenges and the possible solutions. We can also talk about how we can support ASEAN in their efforts. We can talk about how we work together at the UN. 

“We can share information about some of our concerns, for instance, on cybercrime and some of the increasing news coming out of Myanmar that there are more of those instances and trafficking in persons as well. So, there’s really a lot to discuss when it comes to Myanmar,” she added.

On November 24, the ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement expressing deep concern over the recent escalation of conflicts in Myanmar, especially in the Northern Shan State, which have caused displacement of civilians, including foreign nationals and citizens of ASEAN member states. 

“We call for the safe return of the nationals of ASEAN Member States caught up in the ongoing conflict.

“We urge all parties to exercise the utmost restraint and immediately end all forms of violence, uphold international humanitarian law, and take all the necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of all civilians,” the statement said. 

During the meeting, Brown noted that talks also extended more broadly to regional issues, in the sense of multilateral support, including through the UN. One area, for instance, is North Korea, where Cambodia has been particularly helpful. 

She said the two sides also discussed all sorts of issues, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well exchanging views on many other priority issues for both Cambodia and the US. 

According to the Cambodian foreign ministry, during the meeting between Brown and Chenda Sophea, the two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues of shared interest, including the Kingdom’s upcoming role as the country coordinator for ASEAN-US dialogue relations. 

“The deputy assistant secretary stressed that Cambodia’s reputable name as the ASEAN chair, and constructive approach to the Ukraine crisis will ease the dialogues. The US will also work to support Cambodia’s endeavours in its capacity as the president of the 5th Review Conference of the Mine Ban Convention,” said the December 14 press release in reference to the Ottawa Convention.