US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) meets with Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn at the State Department in Washington, DC on May 13, 2022. AFP
Speaking during a press conference in Bangkok after meeting with democracy activists from Myanmar on Sunday, Blinken said the US is working with ASEAN member countries to push Myanmar’s regime to fulfill the “Five-Point Consensus”, and end its violence, and put Myanmar back on the path to democracy.
“We have an obligation to the people of Burma to hold the regime accountable. Regional support for the regime’s adherence to the Five-Point Consensus developed by ASEAN is critical,” he said, using the country’s former name.
“That has not happened, and I think all Asean countries need to hold the regime accountable for that; to continue to demand an immediate cessation of violence, the release of political prisoners, and restoration of Burma’s democratic path.
“But to date, we have not seen positive movement in that direction. We will continue to look for ways that we can – and other countries can effectively put pressure on the regime to move back to the democratic path, and we’re doing that on a regular basis,” he said.
Myanmar has been in turmoil ever since junta chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) government in a coup on February 1 last year.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry could not be reached for comment but Government spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday Cambodia has been trying to resolve the crisis in Myanmar.
“We welcome this call,” Siphan said. “It is a symbol of cooperation and cooperation with Cambodia, as well as ASEAN as a whole, to bring about a peaceful transition to normalcy and to rebuild democracy in Myanmar.”
He said as the chair of ASEAN, Cambodia has proposed to meet with all parties concerned to find out how to find a solution and Siphan cited the uphill tasks faced by Prak Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar.
“We have been able to resolve a number of issues in order to strengthen the dialogue,” Siphan said. “We did not reject any party but we had hoped to meet with all groups.”
“We insisted on meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in person but we could not. We were concerned for her safety,” Siphan said of Sokhonn’s second working visit to Myanmar in his capacity as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair.
During the visit, he paid a courtesy call on Sen Gen Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw where the two sides exchanged views on situational updates and challenges in implementing some key documents.
Sokhonn then met his counterpart Myanmar Junta counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin to discuss Asean-related matters.
During his visit, Sokhonn also met with representatives of seven political parties in Myanmar, that won seats in the 2020 election, and seven Ethnic Armed Organisations which had signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the State Administration Council (SAC).
However, Sokhonn’s request to meet Suu Kyi and Daw Su Su Lwin, the wife of former President U Htin Kyaw and a National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker was rejected by SAC.
Sokhonn did not get to meet with four political parties including Suu Kyi’s NLD and three other ethnic armed groups.
Sokhonn reportedly said that he didn’t have a “divine medicine” to resolve the Myanmar crisis and that he was not a magician.
“To be honest, what ASEAN and myself can accomplish is to facilitate the peace process by promoting inclusive dialogue acceptable by all sides,” he told a press briefing on the outcome of his working visit to Myanmar last week.
Blinken when asked during the press conference in Bangkok whether China’s efforts were helping or hindering the Asean diplomacy on Myanmar, Blinken said, “I think it’s also incumbent upon China, and in China’s interests, to see Burma move back to the path that it was on and it was so violently disrupted from by the coup”.
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During his bilateral meeting with Junta’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin on July 3 on the sidelines of the 7th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bagan, Myanmar, which Sokhonn also attended, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China expected all parties in Myanmar to “adhere to rational consultation” and “realise political reconciliation”.
“China expects all parties in Myanmar to prioritise the big picture and the interests of the people, adhere to rational consultation, and realise political reconciliation and lasting peace and stability at an early date within the framework of the constitution and laws,” said Chinese foreign ministry in a statement.
Speaking during the opening of the Council Meeting of the Southeast Asian Games Federation (SEAGF) and the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) in Phnom Penh yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen described 2022-2023 as an important year for the Kingdom in the capacity as the Chair of ASEAN and committed to ensuring peace.
“Cambodia is highly committed to the principles of peaceful cooperation and equality, contributing to addressing any potential challenges in the region in order to ensure peace, harmonisation and comprehensive partnership, aimed at accelerating development for common destiny and prosperity,” he said.