ASEAN special envoy sets Myanmar visit for later this month

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia’s foreign minister later this month will make his first trip to Myanmar in his capacity as the special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, his office said Thursday.

The regional grouping, usually referred to as ASEAN, is seeking to contribute to the peacemaking process in Myanmar, which has been wracked by violent unrest since the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February last year.

Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn’s visit is scheduled for March 20-23, according to a ministry spokesperson, but details of the meetings have yet to be finalized.

ASEAN is seeking to implement a five-point consensus on Myanmar it reached last year stressing dialogue, humanitarian assistance and an end to violence.

But the ruling military council of Myanmar, which is also a member of ASEAN, has delayed implementation of the plan, even as the country has slipped into a situation that some U.N. experts have described as civil war.

A particular sticking point has been the military’s refusal to allow an ASEAN envoy to meet with Suu Kyi, who has been detained since last year’s takeover. Myanmar’s lack of cooperation led ASEAN last year to bar its leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, from attending its annual summit meeting, an unprecedented step for the body.