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Cambodia, Japan leaders urge Myanmar junta to honor ASEAN peace plan

Captur hun sene

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Cambodia on Sunday.

The prime ministers of Cambodia and Japan have urged the Myanmar junta to comply with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) five-point consensus, and pave the way for ASEAN members and development partners to distribute much-needed humanitarian aid to the Myanmar people. 

The call for the junta to abide by the five-point consensus was made on Sunday during a state visit to Cambodia by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Japan’s premier was in Cambodia to strengthen bilateral ties and to discuss economic and security cooperation, with the crises in Myanmar and Ukraine high on the agenda. 

Myanmar has been in social and political turmoil since the military’s coup in February last year. Last April, coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing agreed a five-point consensus with ASEAN leaders to end the crisis, including the immediate cessation of violence in the country. So far, the regime has failed to honor the plan.

Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen, who is the current chair of ASEAN, said during a joint press conference that he and Japan’s prime minister had seriously discussed the Myanmar crisis and expressed their deep concern about the situation in the conflict-torn country. They called on all relevant stakeholders to immediately end violence and to start negotiations with the relevant parties in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. They also called on the military regime to release all detained politicians.

 “We both agreed that the Naypyitaw authorities need to comply with ASEAN’s five-point consensus as soon as possible and to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid to the Myanmar people who are in need. At the same time, we both reiterated the importance of solving the crisis through negotiations with the relevant stakeholders,” said Hun Sen. 

Sophal Ear, Associate Dean and Associate Professor at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management in the United States, said that Cambodia is trusted by the junta bosses because Cambodia has also just jailed its opposition leaders so, in that sense, they are both traveling on the same journey. 

“Myanmar, I am sure, would love to be treated like Cambodia, where it can do what it wants but not be punished. The other ASEAN members who reject Myanmar can maybe get Cambodia to do things that they would not be willing to do themselves. They can use Cambodia to send messages to Myanmar,” said Sophal Ear, who is Cambodian-American.

“Cambodia can be a messenger. It should not, however, send a message that is not ASEAN’s, pretending that it came from ASEAN. Cambodia should not masquerade as though it represents ASEAN. The views of Cambodia are its views alone and do not represent the views of ASEAN,” he added. 

On Monday, ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar Prak Sokhonn, who is also Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, departed for Naypyitaw on his first official visit to Myanmar as ASEAN envoy.

Also in the delegation are a number of senior officials from Cambodia’s government, likely including Cham Prasidh, Minister of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation, as well as staff from AHA, ASEAN’s Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management. 

Prak Sokhonn will spend three days in Myanmar at the invitation of the junta boss, Snr-Gen.  Min Aung Hlaing.