Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met for an annual retreat yesterday in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, under the shadow of the deepening crisis in Myanmar.
The informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat took place without the foreign minister appointed by Myanmar’s military junta, who was excluded from the meeting due to the latter’s lack of implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus peace plan. Myanmar’s military government subsequently announced that it would prefer not to participate in this week’s meeting rather than sending a “non-political” representative.
The announcement came after disagreement within ASEAN over whether to permit Myanmar to participate in the bloc’s meetings. After Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was uninvited from last October’s virtual ASEAN Summit, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen — this year’s ASEAN chair — expressed a desire to welcome Myanmar back into the ASEAN fold, and traveled to Myanmar for direct talks with military chief Min Aung Hlaing last month. But he relented after encountering unusually strong pushback from fellow ASEAN leaders and witnessing the obduracy of the military junta, which despite its honeyed promises, showed little movement on the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.