11 July 2024

Laos has appointed a veteran diplomat as the ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar ahead of the ASEAN foreign ministerial retreat in Luang Prabang later this month, according to an informed diplomatic source.

Alounkeo Kittikhoun, a former minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, has been named the ASEAN special envoy to the Chair on Myanmar by Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith. The Lao Foreign Ministry has informed its ASEAN colleagues about the new ASEAN envoy, who assumed the duty on January 1.

Previously, Alounkeo also served as the Lao envoy to the United Nations. His appointment comes as the incoming Lao chair hosts its first ministerial retreat to discuss its proposed agenda and key deliverables. The retreat will take place in the old capital of Luang Prabang on January 28-29.

The quick appointment of the ASEAN special envoy to the chair on Myanmar indicates the seriousness of the incoming Lao chair to implement the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, according to a senior Thai diplomat who asked not to be named. The previous ASEAN chair did not name the ASEAN envoy but instead set up the Office of ASEAN Special Envoy.

In approaching the Myanmar crisis, Lao PDR will build on the achievements made by previous chairs, namely Brunei, Cambodia, and Indonesia. The incoming chair will uphold ASEAN’s commitment to assist Myanmar in finding a durable, inclusive, and peaceful solution that is Myanmar-led in all aspects.

At the retreat, the chair is expected to present its key deliverables under the ASEAN theme of Connectivity and Resilience. Last month, Saleumxay revealed that under Laos, there would be nine priority areas covering the whole gamut of ongoing efforts to integrate the ASEAN Community.

These nine areas are: integrating and connecting economies; forging an inclusive and sustainable future; transforming for the digital future; promoting ASEAN culture and arts for inclusivity and sustainability; developing strategic plans to complement the ASEAN Community Vision 2034; promoting ASEAN Centrality; promoting environmental cooperation, women, and children’s health.