PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network) Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the Asean Secretariat to hold a full session to begin humanitarian action to help Myanmar, suggesting that it extend invitations to key figures to participate in the planned Asean global dialogue which will focus on post-pandemic recovery efforts.
Hun Sen made the request during his meeting with Asean Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Jan 17 during the latter’s five-day visit to the Kingdom from Jan 15-19. Cambodia is the chair of Asean for 2022.
“With regard to the situation in Myanmar, [Lim] said that he supported Cambodia’s initiative, especially its intentions that are in line with Asean’s five-point consensus,” Hun Sen said in a Facebook post.
Hun Sen also told Lim that Cambodia planned to hold the Asean global dialogue this year in a similar fashion to what the Kingdom did in 2012 when it held the Asean chair for the second time.
“Therefore, he [Hun Sen] requested that the secretary-general help with the organisation of this dialogue by inviting key figures to participate in this meeting, especially on the topic of post-Covid-19 recovery,” the post said.
“[Lim] said [the Asean global dialogue] was a great idea and he promised to work with Asean and other relevant sectors to push forward with holding the meeting,” added the post.
Hun Sen and Lim exchanged views on various issues in addition to the Myanmar situation that concern Asean, such as Covid-19 response, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the possibility of East Timor becoming the 11th Asean member and other topics.
Lim also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn on Jan 17 after his meeting with Hun Sen.
“We discussed several issues as we are preparing for the upcoming major Asean meetings this year. I briefed him on the key priorities and deliverables of the Asean chair and was pleased to receive his full support.
“We share a sense of optimism for the future of Asean despite some pressing challenges. We believe that the spirit of solidarity and togetherness within Asean will prevail,” Sokhonn said in a Facebook post.
According to the foreign ministry, Lim will also meet with Minister of National Defence Tea Banh; Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth; Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol; Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron; and Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak.
Lim will also attend the Asean Tourism Ministerial Meeting on Jan 19 in Sihanoukville.
“The visit of [Lim] to Cambodia [will be an occasion to] seek ways to enhance the cooperation and coordination between the Asean Secretariat and Cambodia’s national ministries under the three Asean community pillars – political-security cooperation, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation – to ensure lasting positive achievements that make a stronger and more cohesive Asean family,” the ministry said in its press statement.
Heng Kimkong, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland and a visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Centre, told The Post on Jan 17 that as Asean chair, it is crucial for Cambodia to get the support of the Asean secretary-general in order to find solutions to complex challenges like the South China Sea dispute.
“If Cambodia can facilitate the adoption of a final text for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea this year, the Kingdom’s image as an international dealmaker will be greatly enhanced,” he said.