January 31, 2024
PHNOM PENH – Foreign minister Sok Chenda Sophea commended ASEAN’s efforts to finalise the Biennial Resolution on the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ), while welcoming Laos and Thailand’s initiative on the implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC) on Myanmar.
Chenda Sophea made his remarks during the January 28-29 ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ (AMM) Retreat, held in Luang Prabang, Laos, and chaired by Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, according to Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
During the event, he shared his appreciation for the ASEAN member states’ finalisation of the treaty, leading to its adoption by the First Committee of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78), said the ministry’s January 30 statement on the outcome of the retreat.
“[It] reaffirmed the importance that ASEAN attaches to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament,” it added.
Regarding the situation in Myanmar, Chenda Sophea welcomed the appointment of Laos’ Alounkeo Kittikhoun as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar for 2024. He also welcomed Laos’ key initiatives to facilitate the implementation of the 5PC.
He suggested that the consensus will make a constructive contribution to a peace process that is “led and owned” by Myanmar.
“The minister welcomed an initiative by Thailand and Myanmar to scale up humanitarian assistance to those who have been affected in the border areas with the AHA Centre, as part of the monitoring process,” the ministry said, referring to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management.
The AHA Centre is an ASEAN inter-governmental agency responsible for managing collective disaster management and humanitarian relief.
Chenda Sophea also welcomed positive progress in the implementation of the objective-based roadmap towards Timor-Leste becoming a full member of ASEAN.
He expressed Cambodia’s commitment to further assisting the island nation with capacity building and participation in all ASEAN meetings and activities.
Regarding broader international issues, the foreign minister put a spotlight on growing geopolitical and geoeconomic competition among great powers, as well as many persistent and overlapping challenges.
He described the competition as “causing concern and anxiety for many countries around the world”.
“In this context, he reiterated the importance of further strengthening ASEAN centrality, and making use of ASEAN-led mechanisms to build strategic trust and deepen cooperation between the bloc and its partners in order to maintain and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond,” added the ministry.
Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the Kingdom’s foreign policy would clearly be in support of the regional nuclear weapon-free zone, as the country’s Constitution mandated that it would not allow any other nation to produce, traffic or store nuclear weapons of any kind on its soil.
He added that Cambodia paid close attention to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), having become a state party to the treaty in April 2021.
“Cambodia has always urged all nations to abandon the arms or nuclear race. We are also a member of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, known as the Ottawa Convention. In the past, we suffered through prolonged civil wars,” he said.
He added that Cambodia is active in curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in clearing landmines. The Kingdom has actively joined UN missions to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa several times.