PM Acknowledges ASEAN Rifts Over Ukraine

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during press conference on Nov, 13 at Peace Palace. Photo: Chhorn Sophat

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen said Ukraine was the most hotly disputed issue at the ASEAN summits, with member states taking different positions.

Hun Sen, outgoing Chair of ASEAN, set out the bloc's conclusions on some of the trickiest foreign policy challenges discussed at the Phnom Penh summits.

"On the situation in Ukraine, which I can say is the hottest potato, we could see different positions," he said in his review. These differences showed up, especially during the East Asia Summit.

"I am glad that Cambodia could host this meeting where parties with divergent positions could exchange frank views on this topic.

"We reaffirmed our respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity.

"We underlined the importance of an immediate cessation of hostilities and the creation of an enabling environment for the peaceful resolution of conflict."

Hun Sen said ASEAN leaders also called for rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine.

"On the Korean peninsula, we expressed our concern over the launch of a ballistic missile over Japan and considered such action a security threat to the region.

"We called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abide by all relevant UN Security Council  resolutions and to refrain from further nuclear tests."

All parties were urged to avoid escalating the situation, exercise utmost self-restraint and create an environment conducive to peaceful dialogue.

"We expressed support for international efforts and diplomatic means to achieve a complete, verifiable and irreversible peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

On Myanmar’s political crisis, the meetings commended the efforts of Cambodia as the ASEAN Chair and the Special Envoy in implementing the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus with a view to help Myanmar restore peace and stability, and return to normalcy.

Leaders adopted the ASEAN Leaders’ Review and Decision on the Implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.

The review says, "The Five-Point Consensus shall remain our valid reference and should be implemented in its entirety.

"There is a need for an implementation plan that outlines concrete, practical and measurable indicators with a specific timeline to support the Five-Point Consensus Final

"We tasked the ASEAN foreign ministers to develop the implementation plan."

The review says this plan will serve as an important document to guide ASEAN’s collective efforts to address the complex crisis.

On the South China Sea (SCS), the review said, "We continue to underscore the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the SCS, and the need for full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS (DOC).

"Further, we have been encouraged by the positive momentum in the ongoing negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the SCS (COC), particularly the recent resumption of in-person negotiations in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh this year.

"We look forward to the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC that is in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."

Cambodia held its closing ceremony for the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and Related Summits on Nov. 13 and ceremonially transferred the Chairmanship of the bloc to Indonesia.

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