Myanmar Leader Agrees to Humanitarian Aid

Myanmar’s junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing has agreed to allow humanitarian relief into the country and facilitate the visit by ASEAN’s special envoy during talks with visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo from Popular News Journal

Talks with Hun Sen pave way for the visit of ASEAN envoy

PHNOM PENH--Myanmar’s junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing has agreed to ensure the efficient distribution of humanitarian relief into the country and facilitate the visit by ASEAN’s special envoy during talks with visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A joint statement after the meeting said Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s State Administration Council, welcomed the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn as the special envoy of the ASEAN chair, promising to support him in carrying out his mandate to implement the bloc’s five-point consensus on Myanmar.  

He also pledged to assist the visit to Myanmar by Sokhonn, adding that the regime will ensure that the envoy will meet all parties involved.

In the meeting, Hun Sen and Min Aung Hlaing touched on efforts to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Myanmar.

“To ensure the efficiency of the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar, especially the people who are most in need of help, the two leaders supported the convening of a meeting among stakeholders such as special envoy of the ASEAN chair on Myanmar, Secretary-General of ASEAN, the representatives of the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management Centre (AHA Center), and the Myanmar National Task Force to Facilitate Provision of Humanitarian Assistance through the AHA Centre, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the relevant United Nations Specialized Agencies,” the statement said.

Min Aung Hlaing told Hun Sen that the five-month ceasefire with all Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), which is due to expire at the end of February, has been extended until the end of this year.

Hun Sen expressed strong support for the junta’s decision, saying it was to de-escalate tension and enable constructive dialogue among stakeholders to achieve enduring peace and national development.

The prime minister, who arrived in Naypyidaw on his two-day official visit on Friday, has become the first foreign leader to meet Myanmar's junta leader since the February 1 coup.

Hun Sen’s visit as the current ASEAN chairman has caused an outcry as many Myanmar people fear that his visit will end up legitimizing the military regime.

The PM has repeatedly defended his visit, saying his purpose is mainly to initiate peace while reiterating that it would not go beyond the five-point consensus agreed by ASEAN in Jakarta in April last year.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, called the  PM's move a slap in the face of the eight other ASEAN member states.

“PM Hun Sen’s unilateral decision as ASEAN chair to meet with Myanmar’s military leadership in Naypyitaw is an affront to the people of Myanmar who strongly oppose the visit," Robertson said.

A day ahead of Hun Sen's trip to Myanmar, U Bo Hla Tint, Ambassador to ASEAN of the government-in-exile National Unity Government of Myanmar, expressed concern and frustration, saying Hun Sen is acting on his own without consulting other bloc leaders.

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