11 July 2024

Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin will attend the ASEAN ministerial retreat in Siem Reap on January 18-19 in person, according to a highly placed source.

The source said that Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn wrote a letter of invitation last week to Maung Lwin. Since October last year, Maung Lwin has skipped all ASEAN-related meetings. The ASEAN foreign ministers agreed that only a senior non-official from Myanmar would be allowed to attend, barring Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing from joining their ASEAN colleagues.

The new ASEAN chair has expressed, at the outset, the wish to have Myanmar included in all ASEAN meetings under its watch.

Several key issues related to Myanmar will be discussed at the retreat, especially the outcome of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s private visit, Myanmar’s credentials and representation in ASEAN as well as the ongoing humanitarian assistance plan.

ASEAN continued to engage Naypyidaw after the coup on Feb 1, 2021, with various ministers attending ASEAN meetings. Some ASEAN members want the chair to take up this issue and make a clear decision, according to the informed source.

During the two-day visit to Myanmar, Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing congratulated the new special envoy, Prak Sokhonn, and invited him back to serve as the facilitator of dialogue between the State Administrative Council and ethnic armed organisations. He also pledged to facilitate the special envoy’s visit to Myanmar and meetings with other stakeholders.

Naypyidaw also reiterated that the ceasefire will be extended until the end of the year and urged all conflicting parties to participate. So far, no conflicting parties are observing the ceasefire.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the other day that Cambodia will propose, at the retreat, the setting up of a group to facilitate the ceasefire, which will be comprised of the current, past and future chairs of ASEAN. In addition, the new version of the group will include the chief of the ASEAN Secretariat.

In previous incarnations, such groupings comprised only the three chairs, without the ASEAN chief. This time, according to the source, the four members of the group, will be able to work more effectively, with the much needed assistance of the ASEAN Secretariat.