ASEAN foreign ministers to push for Myanmar progress

ASEAN foreign ministers to push for Myanmar progress

But after more than a year of no progress on the plan, Malaysia has said it would present a framework for its implementation, even as critics deride ASEAN as a toothless talking shop.

“Peace can wait, but saving lives can not wait,” said Cambodia’s ASEAN spokesman Kung Phoak, while speaking up gains in humanitarian aid delivery.

The absence of Myanmar’s top diplomat, Wunna Maung Lwin, or any representative from the country however may stymie progress, he admitted.

SOUTH CHINA SEA

The ongoing South China Sea tensions will be another hot-button issue on the agenda.

Beijing claims most of the sea – with competing territorial assertions from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Cambodia – a key Beijing ally – last hosted ASEAN in 2012 and was accused of siding with China over the disputed and resource-rich waters, resulting in no communique being issued.

But based on the progress of a senior officials’ meeting, Kung Phoak said he was confident a consensus could be reached and a joint statement released.

“I’m confident things are moving in the right direction. We’re almost there,” he said Tuesday.

Alongside Blinken and Wang, Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov – who will make a stop in Myanmar for talks with the junta before travelling on to Cambodia – and the European Union’s Josep Borrell will attend meetings with ASEAN counterparts later in the week.

Ministers are expected to grapple with issues ranging from the Russian-Ukraine conflict to North Korea missile tests and regional security concerns.

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