Phnom Penh, Aug 3 (EFE).- The foreign ministers of China, the United States and Russia are set to attend the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which kicks off on Wednesday in Phnom Penh amid heightened global tensions due to US lower house speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan and the Ukraine war.
US Secretary of state Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, along with the European Union’s foreign policy representative Josep Borrell, will take part in the summit that will continue until Friday in the Cambodian capital.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday inaugurated the summit, which will focus on the political crisis in Myanmar following last year’s coup.
However, the event has been overshadowed by Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, with Beijing responding with a military deployment and a barrage of trade sanctions against Taiwan.
Apart from multilateral meetings which will be attended by representatives from all four superpowers, such as the Pacific regional forum on Friday, some bilateral meetings are also expected to take place, such as the one between Borrell and Blinken scheduled for Thursday.
On the other hand, there are no plans for a meeting between Blinken and Wang, Cambodia’s deputy foreign minister Kuang Phoak clarified in a press conference.
Ties with China are a delicate issue for the 10 member countries for ASEAN, with some nations being very close to Beijing – including Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos – while others maintaining a distance despite strong economic ties.
The ASEAN foreign ministers, meeting physically for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, are set to discuss the tensions surrounding Taiwan, the Myanmar crisis, Ukraine war, climate change and economic cooperation after the pandemic.
Hun Sen said in his inaugural speech that the Myanmar situation had worsened due to the junta recently executing four dissidents, which had “disappointed and disturbed” ASEAN member countries.
“If more prisoners are executed, we will be forced to rethink (…) our role,” the Cambodian PM said, referring to the mediation attempts by the ASEAN after the Myanmar junta had reached a five-point consensus with the bloc in April 2021, including ending violence and initiating dialog with the other parties in the conflict.
The inaugural speech took place with the Myanmar chair lying vacant, as the representative of the military junta that seized power on Feb. 1, 2021 has not been invited to the event.
During the event, Blinken would reiterate Washington’s commitment towards ASEAN and discuss issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, economic cooperation, fight against climate change, the Myanmar crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine, the US state department said in a statement.
ASEAIN, established in 1967, constitutes of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. EFE