Cambodian PM Hun Sen asks for US-Asean summit to be postponed

Mr Hun Sen noted that some Asean leaders wanted the summit to be held on March 26 to 27, but the US said the dates would not work for its officials. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PHNOM PENH (THE PHNOM PENH POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that the summit between the United States and Asean be postponed as the dates have not been fully agreed upon between member states.

According to the Premier, the US had announced that the summit was scheduled for March 28 to 29, but Indonesia, who was acting as mediator, had not coordinated the scheduling with the other Asean members yet.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Cambodia-China Friendship Hospital in Tbong Khmum province on Monday (March 7), Mr Hun Sen noted that some Asean leaders wanted the summit to be held on March 26 to 27, but the US said the dates would not work for its officials, while the leaders of at least three Asean countries also said they could not attend the meeting if it was held on those dates.

"I would like to ask for a postponement if there is no agreement on the summit schedule. The Asean-US summit should be delayed," he said without proposing a new date.

Mr Hun Sen hoped Asean and the US would find a suitable date to meet, saying that as the chair of Asean, he would be available for the summit on any date in March .

Mr Hun Sen also said that because the leaders of four Asean nations are visiting the Middle East, the Asean-China summit may possibly need to be postponed as well.

Additionally, he said that he could not leave Cambodia from mid-May to mid-June because the commune election would be taking place on June 5 and the kingdom would be busy with the preparations for it.

"If the Asean chair cannot leave the country, then that means the summit will not take place (on those dates)," Mr Hun Sen said.

Research fellow Thong Mengdavid at the Asian Vision Institute's Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies said Cambodia, as the Asean chair, wants the summit to take place as soon as possible given the geopolitical developments happening in Asean and across the world - such as the Myanmar crisis, and the South China Sea and the Russia-Ukraine conflicts - which will likely require the assistance of the US to help resolve.

"Asean needs the US to provide political, economic and technical support to strengthen regional cooperation and promote our post-Covid-19 economic recovery," he told The Phnom Penh Post on Monday.

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