Asean envoy set for 3-day Myanmar visit

Asean envoy set for 3-day Myanmar visit

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn speaks during the Asean Foreign Ministers' Retreat press conference in Phnom Penh on Feb 17, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn speaks during the Asean Foreign Ministers' Retreat press conference in Phnom Penh on Feb 17, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

PHNOM PENH: A special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is due to visit Myanmar from March 20 to 23, a Cambodian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Friday, in an effort to initiate a peace process in a country gripped by conflict triggered by a coup a year ago.

Prak Sokhonn, the foreign minister of Cambodia, the current Asean chair, last month urged Myanmar's ruling generals to allow him to meet all stakeholders there, including its outlawed opponents.

Following the military's deadly crackdown on months of strikes and protests against its coup, heavy fighting has raged in several regions of Myanmar between troops and militias allied with the ousted government, some backed by ethnic minority insurgents.

Cambodian foreign ministry spokesperson Chum Sounry said by text message that Prak Sokhonn's trip was still being arranged but confirmed reports that a tentative schedule had been set for March 20 to 23.

Chum Sounry declined to provide details of who the envoy might meet, but efforts by a previous Asean envoy to meet Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is detained and on trial, proved fruitless.

Myanmar's military spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The junta agreed last year to a five-point Asean plan to end unrest in Myanmar, which included ceasing hostilities, allowing humanitarian aid access and supporting an inclusive peace process.

Some Asean members have been frustrated over the army's failure to comply and the bloc has prevented the generals from attending regional meetings until it demonstrates progress.

More than 300,000 people have been displaced by post-coup conflict in Myanmar, according to the United Nations, with thousands of civilians arrested, many beaten, tortured and killed, say human rights groups.

The military government on Monday accused Western media of biased reporting of events in Myanmar and said it was seeking to protect its people from "terrorists” and had freed more than 48,000 detained protesters.

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