Asean countries including Cambodia and Malaysia call for diplomacy to resolve Ukraine-Russia conflict

Malaysian PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob (left) meets Cambodian PM Hun Sen during an official visit to Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, on Feb 24, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT CABINET

Countries in South-east Asia have called for more dialogues among relevant sides to seek a peaceful solution for the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday (Feb 24), confirming the worst fears of the West with the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.

Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, which is is the Asean chair this year, said: "Although we are far away and a small country, international issues such as this are very concerning to us."

"The Malaysian Prime Minister and I also discuss this issue and what we wish to see is a peaceful solution," Mr Hun Sen told the media in Phnom Penh on Thursday (Feb 24), when asked about the conflict in the presence of visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

"I and the Malaysian prime minister are of the opinion that Asean needs a strong voice. Therefore, any statement to be issued should have the consensus of Asean including on the Ukraine-Russia issue," Mr Hun Sen was cited by Bernama news agency as saying.

Datuk Seri Ismail, who was on an official visit to Cambodia, said the government was saddened by the developments taking place in Ukraine.

"The government's priority at this time is to ensure that Malaysian families in Ukraine are safe," he said in a series of tweets on Thursday.

"Malaysia hopes that the best possible peaceful settlement between Ukraine and Russia can be reached soon, and subsequently successfully resolve the conflict," The Star Online quoted him as saying.

He said there were 23 Malaysian citizens registered with the Malaysian Embassy in Kiev. "Twelve have returned home while 11 are still there," he added.

Indonesia on Thursday also expressed concerns over the escalating armed conflicts in Ukraine.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Indonesia urged that the international law and the United Nations Charter on territorial integrity of a nation be upheld, and condemned any action that violates a state territory and sovereignty.

Indonesia re-asserted that all parties prioritise negotiations and diplomacy to end conflicts and seek peaceful resolution, he added.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Ukraine has also kept a close watch on the recent tensions, Vietnam News reported on Thursday.

Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman Le Thi Thu Hang, responding to queries from reporters, said Vietnam called on relevant sides to practise self-restraint, step up dialogue efforts and promote diplomatic measures to peacefully deal with conflicts in line with the United Nations Charter and basic principles of international law, contributing to ensuring peace, security and stability in the region and the world at large.

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In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte's acting spokesman Karlo Nograles said the safety of Filipinos in Ukraine remained foremost on the mind of the President.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday urged Filipinos in Ukraine not to panic and exercise caution following attacks from Russia.

“The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, is now conducting repatriation efforts of Filipinos living in Ukraine,” Mr Nograles added.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) was also preparing chartered flights and military cargo planes for possible evacuation of Thai nationals in Ukraine, RTAF spokesman Air Vice-Marshal Prapas Sornjaidee said on Thursday, according to The Nation news website.

He noted that evacuation by military planes would require careful consideration as there is a military conflict in the area, so chartered flights would be the first choice.

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