PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Cambodia’s prime minister has urged Myanmar’s top general to allow a special Southeast Asian envoy access to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in his strongest call so far for the junta chief to demonstrate commitment to a regional peace process.
Hun Sen, chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in a video call on Monday told Min Aung Hlaing it was crucial the envoy meets all stakeholders in Myanmar, including Suu Kyi, who in recent months has been convicted of corruption and incitement. Myanmar has been in turmoil since Min Aung Hlaing led a coup against Suu Kyi’s elected government 15 months ago.
ASEAN’s five-point Myanmar peace “consensus”, backed by the United Nations and major powers, remains the only formal diplomatic initiative in play, but regional leaders are frustrated at what they see as stonewalling by the junta. “He re-emphasised the importance of access for the special envoy to meet all parties concerned in Myanmar … for creating conducive environment to start an inclusive political dialogue,” a Cambodian foreign ministry statement said of Hun Sen’s call.
Min Aung Hlaing in response “pledged to facilitate meetings with other parties concerned”, it said, and that Myanmar authorities were facilitating humanitarian aid distribution. A spokesman for Myanmar’s military rulers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ASEAN has barred Myanmar’s generals from attending its key meetings, including an upcoming summit in the United States, until its military ends hostilities, allows dialogue and humanitarian access. The junta has said it is committed to the agreement, but has a duty to ensure security. Hun Sen’s call follows a trip to Myanmar in March by the envoy, his foreign minister, Prak Sokhonn, a visit that activists and a shadow government said favoured the junta because he met no other parties to the conflict.
Prak Sokhonn after the trip said he sought access to Suu Kyi, but was denied. Two months earlier, he had criticised a previous envoy’s insistence on Suu Kyi access as “unproductive”.