The ASEAN Summits came to a close on Sunday after four days of 16 summits held in the capital Phnom Penh, with Prime Minister Hun Sen handing over the gavel to Indonesia as the next chair of the regional bloc.
In a closing remark at Sokha Hotel, Hun Sen said that during the four days of extensive meetings with regional and world leaders, the bloc has focused on discussing ways forward to strengthen ASEAN centrality and relevance vis-a-vis with external partners at a time when the world is amidst the fast-evolving complex regional and international issues.
Hun Sen added that a total of 70 outcome documents and declarations have been adopted. ASEAN has also extended the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation to include Ukraine.
Six other states - Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - also signed the treaty during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meetings in August, Hun Sen said. He added this brings a total of 510 countries party to it.
Hun Sen said that ASEAN centrality is the primary driving force for substantive dialogue and collaboration with external partners through various ASEAN-led mechanisms.
“We must maintain ASEAN unity regardless of circumstances for the best interests of the whole region,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen also handed over the Chairmanship Gavel to Indonesian Joko Widodo for 2023 and invited all ASEAN heads of states and governments to the official opening ceremony of the 32nd SEA Games on May 5 and the opening ceremony of the 12th ASEAN Para Games on June 3.
The 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits came to an end as US President Joe Biden arrived late for the East Asia Summit on Sunday. The East Asia Summit had leaders from ASEAN countries, Japan, China and Russia. Biden also mistaken Cambodia for Columbia during a speech on Saturday.
In a readout on Sunday, the White House said that Biden had reaffirmed the enduring US commitment to the Indo-Pacific, with ASEAN at its center, delivering on his vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free and open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure.
“President Biden also raised concerns regarding the threats posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and he condemned Russia’s brutal and unjust war against Ukraine in the strongest terms,” the White House said.
Biden also voiced concerns regarding the deteriorating crisis in Burma, and highlighted the importance of taking further action to increase pressure on the Burmese military regime to implement the Five Point Consensus, release political prisoners, and provide a return to the path of democracy.
“President Biden also commented on US-PRC relations, underscoring that the United States will compete vigorously with the PRC and speak out regarding the PRC’s human rights abuses, while keeping lines of communication open and ensuring competition does not veer into conflict. He reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
In Cambodia, UN Secretary General António Guterres visited Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh on Sunday to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the crimes committed throughout Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge era.
Guterres said the suffering that took place within these walls is horrific and shocking. The story of survival is moving and inspiring, he added.
He added that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has demanded that many Khmer Rouge leaders be held accountable for these atrocities and provide a voice for the victims and survivors of the regime.
“Tuol Sleng is an essential reminder, its blood-stained bricks and tiles here are a warning to all of us: This is what happens when hatred runs rampant,” Guterres said.