Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn said he welcomed the US’ continued commitment to upholding ASEAN centrality as well as peace and prosperity in the region after Washington urged members states to keep pressure on the current Myanmar regime to implement the bloc’s conflict resolution plan.
Sokhonn made the remarks as he met Derek Chollet, Counselor of the US Department of State – where he serves at the rank of Under-Secretary – on December 10 at the foreign ministry. Chollet is in the region paying visits to Cambodia and Indonesia from December 8-13 to discuss regional issues and the crisis in Myanmar.
Sokhonn said he welcomed US support for Cambodia’s role as ASEAN chair in 2022 and any deliverables that would help to accelerate ASEAN community building efforts and enhance the bloc’s external relations, according to the ministry’s press release.
It said Sokhonn expressed Cambodia’s readiness to assume the ASEAN chair and highlighted the Kingdom’s priorities across the three ASEAN community pillars.
Sokhonn also emphasised that the theme “ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together” endeavours to promote ASEAN’s spirit as a united family with a responsibility to uphold peace and prosperity in the region and beyond.
“[Chollet] reaffirmed that ASEAN is central for US foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific region, and looked forward to working closely with Cambodia as the incoming chair of ASEAN in 2022,” said the press release.
It added that US President Joe Biden is also looking forward to hosting the ASEAN-US Summit in Washington, DC, in the near future during which both sides will discuss a wide range of issues including ASEAN-US relations, Covid-19 response and post-pandemic recovery.
“I had a productive and informative meeting today with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn in Phnom Penh, where we discussed US engagement in Southeast Asia, the ongoing crisis in Burma, and Cambodia’s role as ASEAN chair in 2022,” Chollet tweeted after the meeting on December 10.
He also met Kao Kim Hourn, Minister Delegate Attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen, about Cambodia’s plans as ASEAN chair.
“The US values its strong partnership with ASEAN and urges its members to continue to press the Burmese regime to implement ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus,” Chollet wrote in a follow-up tweet, using a former name for Myanmar.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun told The Post on December 12 that the US and its partners in the international community were looking to ASEAN and its Five-Point Consensus on conflict resolution as the foundation for solving the crisis in Myanmar.
“The visit by a senior US state department official serves as a reminder to Cambodia about the US’s stance on the issue of Myanmar, which is important given Cambodia’s role as ASEAN chair and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s planned trip there next month,” he said.