Myanmar junta official visits Cambodia after Suu Kyi sentencing

Myanmar's military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin meets Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Decembeer 7, 2021. Cambodian Government handout via REUTERS

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Myanmar's military-appointed foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, held talks in Cambodia on Tuesday, a day after the junta drew global condemnation for sentencing deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to jail for incitement and breaching COVID-19 rules.

Wunna Maung Lwin met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, with the men tapping elbows in a greeting before talks, government handout pictures showed.

Cambodia will chair the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year, a bloc that has seen divisions over member Myanmar since Suu Kyi's government was overthrown in a Feb. 1 coup.

With some ASEAN members angered by the Myanmar military's unwillingness to deliver on its commitment to end hostilities and start dialogue, its leader Min Aung Hlaing, was not invited to a virtual summit of ASEAN leaders in October, in an unprecedented snub.

But Hun Sen, who has over the years faced criticism from rights groups and Western governments over what they see as his suppression of democracy, said on Monday junta officials should be invited to the bloc's meetings.

Hun Sen and Wunna Maung Lwin discussed bilateral relations, ASEAN issues and ways to re-establish good relationships within the bloc, said Eang Sophalleth, an assistant to the prime minister.

The foreign minister also handed Hun Sen an invitation for a visit to Myanmar on Jan. 7-8, which Hun Sen accepted, Eang Sophalleth said. Hun Sen would be the first government leader to visit Myanmar since the coup.

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn also met Wunna Maung Lwin and said Cambodia and other ASEAN member states would help Myanmar achieve "a win-win solution".

He did not elaborate on what that might entail and no mention of the Suu Kyi verdict was made in official statements on the Myanmar minister's visit.

The international spotlight focused on Myanmar again on Monday when a court found Suu Kyi guilty of charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions, drawing condemnation of what critics said was a "sham" trial.

She will serve two years in detention at an undisclosed location, after her sentence was halved in a partial pardon from Myanmar's military chief.

Suu Kyi's supporters say the cases against her are groundless. Her conviction had been widely expected in Myanmar.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Writing by; Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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