Cambodia says leader’s Myanmar trip “good” despite criticism

Cambodian leader returned home after head of state’s first visit to Myanmar since military takeover plunged him into turmoil last year

Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn told reporters that talks between Prime Minister Hun Sen and the leader of Myanmar resulted in “a very good positive outcome with a gradual step forward” on the implementation of peace efforts. agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional bloc currently led by Cambodia.

Hun Sen’s meeting with Myanmar’s military leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government last February, sparked protests in Myanmar and criticism abroad. Opponents said it legitimized the military takeover and broke the generals’ almost total diplomatic isolation.

The army’s seizure of power led to widespread conflict with civilians forming guerrilla groups and thousands driven from their homes by the army’s offensives.

“If there is anyone who opposes the advancement of these negotiations and agreements like this, it is only those who love war, those people who do not want to see Myanmar return to stability. and peace, ”said Prak Sokhonn, who is also the ASEAN special. sent to Burma.

Friday’s joint statement on the talks, which described them as “straightforward and forthright,” said Min Aung Hlaing extended a ceasefire until the end of the year, and that the two leaders would press for a stakeholder meeting on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The ceasefire offer is unlikely to be taken seriously by opponents of the military. Such arrangements are systematically broken in Myanmar. The ceasefire also made specific reference only to long-standing ethical armed groups, and not to the new civilian guerrilla units that are currently waging most of the fighting.

Prak Sokhonn also revealed that Hun Sen brought up the case of Australian Sean Turnell, a former economic adviser to Suu Kyi who is on trial in Myanmar for violating state secrets. He said Hun Sen raised the issue at the request of Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

“Hun Sen raised the matter directly with Min Aung Hlaing and he replied that the case was now in court, but said that once it was completed, the Chief General would look into the case. This means he promised he would come back to Hun Sen with positive news, ”said Prak Sokhonn.

Last April, ASEAN leaders, including Min Aung Hlaing, agreed on a five-point roadmap towards a peaceful resolution of the Myanmar crisis, including an end to violence and a dialogue. policy among all stakeholders.

The Myanmar leader was barred from attending ASEAN meetings in October after the group’s special envoy was prevented from meeting with Suu Kyi and other political detainees, which was one of the stipulations of the ‘OK.

The Burmese military said Hun Sen would not be allowed to meet with Suu Kyi, who was sentenced in December for incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions and sentenced to four years in prison – a sentence Min Aung Hlaing later reduced A half.

She also faces a series of other charges.

Myanmar’s military has a history of bloodshed, including a brutal campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority. His seizure of power sparked non-violent nationwide protests, which security forces suppressed with deadly force.

The army recently engaged in the violent repression of all dissent, disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions. It also launched airstrikes and ground offensives against armed rebel ethnic groups.

Security forces killed around 1,443 civilians, according to a detailed count by the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. As the crackdown has grown more severe, armed resistance has grown inside the country.

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Harmer reported from Bangkok.

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