Cambodian PM becomes first head of state to visit Naypyidaw since coup

Cambodian PM becomes first head of state to visit Naypyidaw since coup

During his highly controversial meeting with Hun Sen in Naypyidaw, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing reportedly told his Cambodian counterpart on Friday that he had declared 2022 “a year of peace”, and thanked him for his efforts “to bring peace to Burma”.

Much was made in Cambodian media of the fact that the junta leader told Hun Sen that he would “extend a ceasefire with EAOs until the end of February”, despite the fact that, just one day later, Burma military aircraft began an aerial bombardment of the Kayah State capital, Loikaw. 

Hun Sen was reported to have raised the issues of tariff reduction to boost bilateral trade, cooperation in the education sector, and the development of tourism between the ancient towns of Bagan and Siem Reap. Min Aung Hlaing is said to have agreed to everything the Cambodian prime minister suggested.

The junta head warmly welcomed the appointment of Cambodian Foreign Minister, Prak Sokhonn, as ASEAN’s next envoy to Myanmar. Hun Sen told the general that Prak Sokhonn would push for the implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, and requested he be given access to meet parties to the current conflict during a future visit to Burma (Hun Sen has openly stated that he has not requested to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, and is “trying a new approach”).

Critics believe that the Cambodians will attempt to bring the junta back to the fold at the next ASEAN Summit, after months in which the bloc had unanimously agreed to ban military officials from representing Burma at its high-level meets.

Hun Sen, himself a coup leader, has become the first head of state to openly visit Burma since February last year. Cambodian media quoted a translator present at the talks who claimed that a needy Min Aung Hlaing had asked Hun Sen to be his “godbrother”.