– Amidst tensions with Burma, ASEAN summit kicks off
The annual ASEAN Summit began on Friday. The Philippine president and the Cambodian prime minister spoke of the need to be “patient” with non-existent Burma.
Ten leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met at a hotel in the Cambodian capital for a family photo of the missing leader of the Burmese military junta. For the second year in a row, Min Aung Hlaing was not invited by his peers.
Asean and Burma continue to back away, with the regional bloc accusing Naypyitaw of failing to stick to a plan agreed last year to pull the country out of chaos since a February 2021 coup.
ASEAN leaders could harden their tone towards the military regime, which has already warned them of potentially negative consequences.
On Tuesday, several human rights groups urged ASEAN to take stronger measures, such as the European Union, which renewed sanctions against Burmese authorities.
Joe Biden expected
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who met on Thursday, expressed disappointment at the junta’s lack of commitment to resolving the crisis, Indonesia’s trade minister said.
But Hun Sen reminded Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday that he needed to be “patient,” adding that some ASEAN member states, aligned with a policy of non-intervention, were wary of Burma. “Perhaps your advice to be patient is all we can do now. But we can always do more in terms of engagement in Burma,” the Philippine leader told Hun Sen, according to a statement released Friday.
The Cambodian prime minister did not explicitly mention Burma in his opening speech. “We must always be vigilant because the socio-economic situation in ASEAN and the rest of the world is fragile and fragmented. We are in a critical moment of great uncertainty,” he said.
ASEAN is due to meet during the day with some key partners such as China represented by Prime Minister Lee Keqiang and South Korea under President Yoon Suk-yeol.
US President Joe Biden is expected in Phnom Penh on Saturday morning.