Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn yesterday led a delegation to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Meeting in Thailand where he is expected to state Cambodia’s stand on regional issues.
A Foreign Affairs Ministry Facebook post said Mr Sokhonn will also attend other related meetings during the five-day session which began yesterday.
“These important meetings are key opportunities for Asean Foreign Ministers and their counterparts from Dialogue Partners and Developing Partners to review and evaluate the relations in the field of cooperation with a view to maintain Asean Centrality vis-a-vis the evolving geopolitical happenings in the world,” the post said.
Mr Sokhonn will attend the 52nd Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings being held in Bangkok until Saturday. His visit was made at the invitation of Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai, a Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said earlier this week.
A Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said that the Asean Foreign Ministers, including Mr Sokhonn, will have an opportunity to pay a courtesy call on newly-elected Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Mr Prayut will also deliver the opening remarks at the AMM meeting.
Under the theme Advancing Partnership for Sustainability, the AMM and related meetings will focus on enhancing cooperation to further advance the Asean community building process and strengthen Asean-centered regional architecture as well as broadening partnerships with the regional bloc’s dialogue partners and external parties, the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said.
Mr Sokhonn is expected to attend series of meeting, including the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Interface with the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights; the Meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Commission; the Asean Post Ministerial Conferences with all 10 dialogue partners; and the 20th Asean Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
He will also co-chair a Post Ministerial Conference +1 session with Winston Peters, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the statement added.
“On the margins of the 52nd AMM, HE Prak Sokhonn will witness, with other Asean foreign ministers, the signing ceremony of the Instruments of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by the Republic of Peru and the Republic of South Africa,” the statement said.
On the sidelines of the 52nd AMM, Mr Sokhonn will attend several meetings, including the 12th Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting; 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting; 9th Mekong-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting; and 12th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
He also expects to hold separate bilateral meetings in Bangkok with Mr Peters, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi; Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono; and Norway’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said that the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting is an opportunity for Cambodia to express its goodwill on regional issues, including the South China Sea dispute, Iran’s nuclear program, the US-China trade war and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
“The head of Cambodian Foreign Affairs should use this good opportunity to express the Kingdom’s willingness to help maintain Asean’s solidarity and the regional bloc’s ties with China,” Mr Phea said.
Mr Phea noted that some Asean members which have a dispute with China over the South China Sea always urged the whole bloc to condemn China.
“Cambodia should take a middle path in this dispute,” he said. “The interests of some Asean members which have a dispute with China should not damage the whole region’s interests.”