Cambodia said Wednesday that an in-person ASEAN foreign ministers meeting scheduled for next week will be postponed, a development that could have been influenced by the regional group's response to military-ruled Myanmar.
Cambodia, which chairs the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, attributed the postponement to "the fact that it is difficult for many ASEAN foreign ministers to travel to Cambodia" for the Jan. 18-19 meeting.
No new date was given for the meeting, slated to be held in Siem Reap, northwest Cambodia. It would have been a routine but important meeting as the first occasion for ASEAN foreign ministers to meet in person after Cambodia assumed the group's rotating chairmanship at the beginning of this year.
Some members, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, have strongly called for the return to democratic rule in Myanmar after the military ousted the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup last February.
Cambodia, in contrast, appears eager to bring Myanmar's junta back into ASEAN diplomacy after the regional group began excluding the country's military leader from ASEAN-related summit meetings in October.
Sources familiar with the matter said Indonesia and Malaysia preferred a virtual meeting due to domestic affairs, while Brunei was preoccupied with an upcoming royal wedding.
Since the February coup, ASEAN has been calling for an end to violence and the dispatch of an ASEAN special envoy to meet with "all parties concerned." But the junta has failed to comply with the demands.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Myanmar last week, becoming the first foreign leader to do so since the coup. During his two-day visit, he held talks with the military leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
ASEAN members were discussing whether the military-appointed foreign minister should be allowed to attend the foreign ministers' meeting.