Cambodian PM’s embrace of Myanmar military rulers splits ASEAN

Hun Sen's sympathy with Min Aung Hlaing undercuts group's world standing.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is experiencing an embarrassing internal rift over the first big event on its diplomatic calendar of the year.

Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry had scheduled an ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, known as the gateway to Angkor Wat, for Jan. 18-19. But just a few days before the meeting, the ministry said it had been postponed. It did not initially say when the meeting would be held, but finally announced on Saturday that it had been rescheduled for Feb. 16-17.

The omicron wave breaking over the region was cited as the reason for the abrupt decision to put off the meeting. But the conference could have been held online if that had been the issue. The real problem was Cambodia’s decision to invite Wunna Maung Lwin, the Myanmar military-appointed foreign minister, to the meeting. That caused a backlash from other ASEAN members.

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