PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen did not seek to meet former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit to the country this week and will take "different approaches" to the crisis there, Cambodia's Foreign Minister said on Saturday (Jan 8).
The comments by Mr Prak Sokhonn indicate Cambodia, this year's chair of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), will likely invite junta officials to Asean meetings - possibly starting with a foreign minister's meeting Jan 17.
The regional grouping had last year taken the unprecedented step of excluding junta chief Min Aung Hlaing from its annual leaders' summit.
Mr Hun Sen, who himself seized power in a 1997 coup and has in subsequent elections been criticised over crackdowns on his political opponents, returned from Myanmar on Saturday after a two-day trip.
His visit was the first by a head of government since the army overthrew the civilian administration of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1 last year, sparking months of protests and a bloody crackdown.
Myanmar's state media on Saturday reported that Gen Min Aung Hlaing had thanked Mr Hun Sun for "standing with Myanmar". The army has said its takeover was in response to election fraud and was in line with the Constitution.
Mr Prak Sokhonn, who accompanied Mr Hun Sen to Myanmar, on Saturday denied the trip amounted to backing the junta, saying it was another way of working to implement a five-point Asean peace plan adopted in April.
He also confirmed that Mr Hun Sen did not ask to meet Ms Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who has been in detention since the army takeover last year and faces more than a dozen criminal charges.
Mr Prak Sokhonn, expected to take up the post as special envoy for Myanmar, said the refusal of the current envoy, Brunei's foreign minister, to visit without guarantees he could meet with Ms Suu Kyi was unproductive.
"If they build a thick wall and we use our head to hit it, it is useless," Mr Prak Sokhonn told reporters. "Cambodia uses different approaches to achieve the five-point consensus."