January 31, 2022
PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s top diplomat Prak Sokhonn has confirmed that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat will resume on February 16-17 and that he is preparing for his first visit to Myanmar in his capacity as the bloc’s special envoy.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, initially scheduled for January 18-19, was recently postponed with the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant cited as the reason.
Sokhonn announced the new date for the retreat during his virtual meeting with UN Security Council (UNSC) president Mona Juul on January 28.
During the meeting, Sokhonn briefed Juul on the January 7-8 visit by Prime Minister Hun Sen to Myanmar, saying it was meant to re-engage Naypyidaw in dialogue and find ways forward in the implementation of the ASEAN five-point consensus (5PC).
The visit was also aimed at ending violence and extending truce by all parties in order to build trust and create a conducive environment for inclusive dialogue. It was also meant to pave the way for a safe and speedy delivery of humanitarian relief to the people of Myanmar.
“[Hun Sen’s] visit to Naypyidaw was an ice-breaking mission. It was aimed at building trust, confidence and understanding and it can certainly act as a stepping stone for further progress,” Sokhonn said.
“He [Hun Sen] went there to plant trees for peace and reconciliation. Time, patience and pragmatism are needed before anyone could harvest the fruits,” Sokhonn said, adding that all actions will be guided by the 5PC and the ASEAN Charter.
Sokhonn said that as the ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar, he was preparing for his first visit there — one of his priorities in ensuring the implementation of the 5PC.
He noted that the implementation of the 5PC will be further discussed during the coming private ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, in the lead-up to a multi-stakeholders consultative meeting on humanitarian assistance to Myanmar.
The humanitarian assistance will be supported by the ASEAN Secretariat and the UN special envoy on Myanmar. The assistance will also be made through all pragmatic humanitarian approaches from local, regional and international humanitarian experts and agencies to facilitate its speedy delivery, the ministry said.
Separately, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn is set to attend a ministerial-level forum on Indo-Pacific cooperation scheduled for February 22. The meeting will be hosted by France under its presidency of the European Council.
Sokhonn was invited by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during their telephone conversation on January 27.
“[Prak Sokhonn] promised to attend the important meeting in person in the French capital Paris,” the ministry said in a press statement.
The French foreign minister briefed Sokhonn that the meeting will be attended by foreign ministers of the 27 EU member states, commissioners and representatives of the EU in charge of foreign and security policy.
“[Prak Sokhonn] has been invited to hold an open speech in the above-mentioned meeting on behalf of the ASEAN chair,” the statement said.
The ministry said Prak Sokhonn and the top French diplomat also touched on the Myanmar issue and recent visit of Prime Minister Hun Sen to Myanmar, among others.