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Top diplomat embarks on second trip to Myanmar

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Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn – in his capacity as the ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar. MFAIC

Top diplomat embarks on second trip to Myanmar

Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn – in his capacity as the ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar – will lead a delegation of the bloc’s diplomats to the country for a five-day visit from June 29 to July 3 in a bid to find a peaceful solution to the prolonged crisis there.

According to a June 28 press statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sokhonn will be accompanied by Ekkaphab Phanthavong, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, staff members from the ASEAN secretariat and a number of Cambodian senior government officials.

The announcement came just a day after Sokhonn expressed “deep concerns” on behalf of ASEAN and the Cambodian government over the political developments in Myanmar, where former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was reportedly transferred from house arrest to solitary confinement in prison.

“The second visit of the special envoy to Myanmar aims to follow up on the progress of the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus [5PC] and on the outcomes of the consultative meeting on ASEAN humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, which was held on May 6, 2022, in Phnom Penh,” the statement said.

Developments in Myanmar cast significant doubt as to whether Sokhonn will be allowed to meet with Suu Kyi on this trip. During his first visit in March, he said Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration l (SAC), had “hinted” at the prospect of a meeting with the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Yang Peou, a political science professor at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Sokhonn’s visit shows a commitment by the ASEAN chair and the bloc’s member states to try and guide Myanmar back onto the path to normalcy and stability.

“Cambodia went through wars for many decades and eventually achieved comprehensive peace in late 1998. War brings nothing but danger and misery to a nation and it makes development impossible,” he said.

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