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PM Hun Sen highlights need for Asean to admit Timor Leste

Thong Sotha​​   On October 27, 2021 - 11:30 am​   In International  
PM Hun Sen highlights need for Asean to admit Timor Leste PM Hun Sen highlights need for Asean to admit Timor Leste

Prime Minister Hun Sen has highlighted the slow pace which Asean is taking to admit neighbouring Timor Leste into the regional bloc.

Addressing the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said the bloc has continued to isolate Timor Leste and this should be an issue of concern.

He noted that that in terms of geopolitical competition, Timor-Leste may move towards a more reliable place for her outside of Asean.

“Cambodia supports Timor-Leste’s request to join Asean. At this point, Cambodia calls on other Asean members to understand Timor-Leste’s efforts for many years. Timor-Leste has established its embassy in all Asean nations, but our Asean seems to be ignoring Timor-Leste’s efforts,” Mr Hun Sen noted.

He urged all Asean leaders to speed up their political decision to accept Timor-Leste’s membership.

Timor-Leste has been applying for Asean membership since 2011, when Indonesia was chair of the grouping.

Asean leaders, except from Myanmar, began their summit via videoconference yesterday, under the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”, chaired by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei.

Kao Kim Huon, the minister attached to the PM’s office said Asean leaders discussed a number of issues, especially related to Covid-19 and the bloc’s economy recovery, including continuing to build the ASEAN Community and to promote integration.

In the 38th ASEAN Summit, the leaders discussed two key agendas, including the ASEAN Community Building and response to Covid-19 pandemic, while the 39th ASEAN Summit touched on external relations and Asean centrality, and exchange of views on regional and international issues, he said.

At the summits, Mr Hun Sen emphasised that the prolongation of Covid-19 in past nearly two years became a major test of leadership and development for both Asean as a whole and for each member country.

“So far, we can assess that Asean will be able to effectively control the spread of the disease in the near future, therefore the main and next important work is the socio-economic rehabilitation and development through ensuring the normalisation of trade flows, travel and liberalisation of trade, services and investment.”

“In that sense, Cambodia would like to support the development of the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision, and welcome the adoption of the terms of reference for the High-Level Task Force in charge of that work,” Mr Hun Sen said.

Regarding the Covid-19 situation in Cambodia, the premier stated that in the fight against this deadly disease, the government has identified vaccination as a strategic key measure, combined with other measures.

He noted in his speech that as of October 22, Cambodia has vaccinated 13.7 million people, equivalent to 85.33% of the total population of 16 million.

Mr Hun Sen said that according to assessment, the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia is well under control, adding that on this basis, Cambodia has been gradually promoting the resumption of socio-economic activities in the new normal way, and planned to launch the Strategy for Recovery and Promoting Economic Growth through Learning to Live with COVID-19 in the new normal at the end of this year.

In the post Covid-19 pandemic context, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) Pou Sothirak yesterday expressed his optimism that during their three-day summit, the Asean leaders will find the way to reopen the region.

“I think all Asean leaders will talk about the resumption of regional economic activity. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic for almost two years, every country in the world, especially in Asean, is falling down, even Cambodia.”

“Now Thailand is preparing to open and Prime Minister Hun Sen has a vision to reopen too, therefore I believe that the reopening the region is one of the main important agenda of the summits this time”, he told Khmer Times by phone.

“I am optimistic that the Asean leaders will discuss not only political issues, but also the economy, tourism and trade in the region and beyond”, he added.

Sothirak said that Asean’s reopening of economic activities will have a positive rather than negative implication.

He noted that the main obstacle to Asean’s reopening would be vaccine diplomacy, as the region has administered different source of vaccines from China, the US and the UK which is why members are cautious in opening up.

Besides the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits, the leaders will attend the 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) Summit; 24th ASEAN-China Summit; 9th ASEAN-U.S. Summit; 24th ASEAN-Japan Summit; 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit; 24th ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit; 16th East Asia Summit; 18th ASEAN-India Summit; and 4th ASEAN-Russia Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations from yesterday until tomorrow.

At the end of the summit tomorrow, Mr Hun Sen will deliver an address at the closing ceremony, where Brunei will hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship for 2022 to Cambodia.

Asean currently has 10 member countries comprising Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Khmer Times