June 20, 2023
PHNOM PENH – High-level representatives of Cambodia and seven other countries, including regional powers China and India, have discussed ways to devise a peaceful solution to the situation in Myanmar, even as Prime Minister Hun Sen described the situation as “worsening”.
Discussions took place during an informal meeting among several countries that shared concerns about the deteriorating crisis in Myanmar. The meeting was hosted by Thailand.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman An Sokhoeun told reporters on June 19 that ministry secretary of state Kung Phoak represented the Kingdom at the meeting, as foreign minister Prak Sokhonn had “urgent commitments” within Cambodia.
The ministry initially announced on June 17 that Sokhonn would attend the informal meeting at the invitation of his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai.
The Thai foreign ministry said in a June 18 press release that although the meeting was being held outside the ASEAN framework, it aimed to support the bloc’s efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“Thailand informed the ASEAN regional forum in Phnom Penh in 2022 that it would be advancing dialogue in all forums to find a way to resolve the situation in Myanmar peacefully, including through track 1.5, which comprises both government and academia,” it explained.
Thailand has held a number of informal meetings on Myanmar in a variety of formats and levels – including twice at the ministerial level – the press release noted. This would be the third informal dialogue.
High-level representatives from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, India, China, Brunei and Vietnam attended the dialogue, built on previous efforts.
“Establishing a dialogue is a fundamental requirement of diplomacy, and of seeking peaceful solutions. As neighbour that shares a 2,400km long border with Myanmar, Thailand wants to see the cessation of violence, in the hope that it eventually lead to peace and stability inside Myanmar,” said the Thai statement.
Thailand has provided continuously humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar, both directly and indirectly, in the context of the conflict and of natural disasters, it added.
“Thailand was the first country in ASEAN to establish a Humanitarian Task Force – chaired by the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs – and has coordinated with various UN and international organisations to provide support to the people of Myanmar.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, president of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC), has been accused of carrying out a “military coup” which overthrew the former civilian government led by Aung Sann Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021.
Hun Sen, speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Bak Kheng water treatment plant in Phnom Penh on July 19, recalled that he was attending the groundbreaking of the plant on the day of the coup.
“I was here back then. I did not say anything because we regarded it as an internal matter for Myanmar,” he said.
He noted that not only had the situation not been resolved, it appeared to be worsening. The most important thing, he suggested, is to prevent Myanmar from slipping into a full-blown civil war.
“In February 2021, Cambodia was beginning construction of a water treatment plant, while Myanmar was undergoing a coup. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and other disruptions, the first phase of the treatment plant was officially inaugurated today, with phase II well underway,” said the premier.
“It is clear that these accomplishments are due to the peace which we enjoy here in Cambodia, and worth reflecting on the difference between the two countries. What are the latest achievements of Myanmar other than the destruction of human lives and property?” he asked rhetorically.