BANGKOK (AP) — Cambodia’s foreign minister arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday for his second visit as special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the country, which is mired in violence and civil unrest since the military took over last year.
State broadcaster MRTV reported that Prak Sokhonn and his group arrived in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and were greeted by officials from the Foreign Ministry.
ASEAN seeks to implement a five-point consensus on Myanmar it reached last year, calling for dialogue among all parties involved, provision of humanitarian aid, immediate cessation of violence and the visit of a special envoy to meet all the parties. Cambodia is the current chairman of the group of 10 nations, which includes Myanmar.
Myanmar’s military-installed government initially accepted the consensus but has since made little effort to implement it, and the country has slipped into what some UN experts have described as a civil war. Its blocking has led other ASEAN members to prevent heads of government from attending key meetings of the regional grouping.
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A spokesman for the military government said on Tuesday that Prak Sokhoon would not be allowed to meet ousted government leader Aung San Suu Kyi during her five-day visit. Suu Kyi is on trial on several counts, including bribery, and was moved last week to a purpose-built solitary confinement facility in a prison in Naypyitaw, the capital. Her supporters say the charges are politically motivated to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover.
The military overthrew the elected government of Suu Kyi, then violently suppressed widespread protests against its actions. After security forces unleashed lethal force against peaceful protesters, some opponents of the military regime took up arms.
The Cambodian government says Prak Sokhonn’s visit will follow the implementation of the five-point consensus, the outcome of a consultative meeting on ASEAN humanitarian aid to Myanmar held in Cambodia last month. , and will contribute to creating an environment conducive to political dialogue through meetings with all parties concerned.
Prak Sokhonn is due to meet the head of the military government, General Min Aung Hlaing, and leaders of at least six ethnic armed groups who are demanding greater autonomy from the central government. But there is skepticism about the meeting’s progress towards restoring peace, as none of the groups present is currently in armed conflict with the government.
During his first mission in March, Prak Sokhonn met with Min Aung Hlaing, diplomats from other ASEAN countries and the UN, and a politician from Myanmar. He said after his return that he saw minor progress during his visit and was not allowed to meet San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders.
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