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Progress on Myanmar seen vital for parties

By YANG HAN in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-28 10:42

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) and Myanmar's Senior General Min Aung Hlaing hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday. CAMBODIA GOVERNMENT HOUSE/AFP

Nation encouraged to move forward on ASEAN's five-point consensus

It's important for Myanmar that progress be made on a five-point consensus reached by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and for the bloc's special envoy to visit the country, analysts said in response to talks between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar's military leader.

At a virtual meeting with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday, Hun Sen expressed deep concerns over the persistent violence in Myanmar, according to Cambodia's Foreign Ministry. Cambodia is the ASEAN chair for 2022.

He also made appeals on a number of issues, including for concerted efforts by Myanmar to implement the five-point consensus, to Min Aung Hlaing, the chairman of Myanmar's State Administration Council.

The regional bloc adopted the five-point consensus in April after the Myanmar military took power on Feb 1, 2021. It calls for all violence to end and for constructive dialogue among all the parties to the Myanmar conflict. It also calls for the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy to visit Myanmar and mediate in talks.

Hun Sen and Min Aung Hlaing discussed "how to further advance the implementation of the five-point consensus of ASEAN based on the provisions of the ASEAN Charter "and "shared the view on the need to make more efforts to improve the situation in Myanmar", according to the statement by Cambodia's Foreign Ministry.

They also agreed to "continue engaging in candid discussions on matters of mutual interests", the statement said.

Chheang Vannarith, president of the Asian Vision Institute in Cambodia, said that the implementation of the five-point consensus is critical to resolving the Myanmar crisis. It would be worrying for ASEAN if Myanmar does not push forward on compliance with the consensus. Failure to do so would also mean that a political-level representative from Myanmar would not be welcomed to ASEAN summits, as was the case in events last year.

"We should wait for the trip of the (ASEAN) special envoy," said Chheang Vannarith, referring to Hun Sen's proposal that the Myanmar military be asked to facilitate the visit to Myanmar by the ASEAN special envoy as soon as possible.

Peaceful solution sought

Hun Sen also called on all parties in Myanmar to stop the violence in order for the country to move toward a process of dialogue for a peaceful solution. He requested full cooperation in support of ASEAN efforts to bring humanitarian aid to people in Myanmar.

Myanmar state media outlet The Global New Light of Myanmar carried front-page coverage of the meeting on Thursday, saying that the Cambodian and Myanmar leaders "frankly discussed" the participation of Myanmar in ASEAN and the need for cooperation in the bloc with a constructive attitude.

Kin Phea, director-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia's International Relations Institute, said he welcomed the initiative and that the meeting was an important follow-up on what the leaders had achieved during Hun Sen's visit to Myanmar on Jan 7-8.

Henry Chan, visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, told China Daily that Hun Sen's proposal indicates he wants to maintain ASEAN unity with his emphasis on a visit by the ASEAN special envoy.

The special envoy is supposed to meet with all parties involved, including Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, or NLD, Chan said. "This condition is unlikely met by the military," he said.

Chan said the question is whether ASEAN can find an alternative figure to Aung San Suu Kyi for the special envoy to meet, such as a secondary figure in the NLD, and focus on humanitarian assistance first.

The World Bank said on Wednesday that Myanmar's economy is projected to grow 1 percent in the year to September.

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