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Myanmar junta welcome at ASEAN if progress made

PHNOM PENH (CNA) – Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said he had invited Myanmar’s junta chief to a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the condition that progress is made on a peace plan he agreed to last year.

Hun Sen, the current ASEAN Chair, said he would talk to Military Chief Min Aung Hlaing by video call, noting that since their face-to-face talks earlier this month, ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi had been sentenced and military aircraft had been deployed in operations.

Min Aung Hlaing led a coup in Myanmar last year and ASEAN made a surprise move in barring the junta from important meetings, over its failure to implement an agreed five-point ASEAN “consensus” on ceasing hostilities and allowing dialogue.

“He (Hun Sen) said that he had invited Min Aung Hlaing to attend the ASEAN summit if there was progress in the implementation of the five points agreed unanimously,” said a statement on Hun Sen’s Facebook page, summarising his call yesterday with Malaysia’s prime minister.

“But if not, he must send a non-political representative to ASEAN meetings.”

Cambodia has indicated it wants to engage not isolate the junta, but Hun Sen has been pressed this month by several ASEAN leaders including those of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, not to give way on the agreement.

Hun Sen’s January 7 visit to Myanmar has been a thorny issue for some countries concerned it could have been interpreted as ASEAN recognition of the generals.

The ASEAN consensus which includes a halt on offensives, facilitating a humanitarian response and granting full access to a special ASEAN envoy to all parties in the conflict.

Anti-coup protesters walking through a market with images of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Myanmar. PHOTO: AP
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