PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened a virtual meeting of Asian and European …
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened a virtual meeting of Asian and European leaders on Thursday with a call for sustainable and shared global growth as the world tries to escape from the COVID-19 pandemic recover.
30 European countries and 21 Asian countries as well as multinational organizations representing the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be represented at the two-day Asia-Europe meeting. The biennial event is hosted by Cambodia after being postponed due to last year’s pandemic.
ASEM members account for 65% of the world economy, 60% of the world population, 75% of world tourism and 55% of world trade, according to the organizers.
“As we all strive for socio-economic recovery while living with COVID-19, the theme we chose for ASEM-13, ‘Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth’, is more valid and relevant than ever,” said Hun Sen. said in the opening speech of the meeting. “Indeed, in the world of the post-COVID-19 crisis, we must further strengthen our Asia-Europe partnership to maintain strong multilateralism that will result in global growth that is not only ‘sustainable’ but can also be ‘shared’ . ‘“
The absence of a leader, Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is likely to reduce ASEM’s attention to the deterioration in human rights in this Southeast Asian country since the army took power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
According to the list of participants, the representation of Myanmar is run as a “working group”. There was no public explanation for Min Aung Hlaing’s absence, but his military-installed government is ostracized by many Western nations for its seizure of power and its violent suppression of pro-democratic protests. UN experts say the country is now on the brink of civil war.
There were concerns that if the leader of Myanmar had participated, the major Western powers would have downgraded their representation, diminishing the prospect of substantial cooperation.
It is the third time that Min Aung Hlaing, who led the army’s takeover in February, was absent from key regional meetings that Myanmar’s leaders would normally attend.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, agreed last month not to invite him to its annual summit. The action was a censure for Myanmar’s failure to work with ASEAN’s humble efforts to restore peace and stability to the troubled country. Myanmar was invited to send a representative to Min Aung Hlaing’s place, but declined.
The general was also absent from the ASEAN-China special summit earlier this week.
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