Japan’s Kishida, Cambodia’s Hun Sen hold talks over Ukraine, Myanmar

Japan’s Kishida, Cambodia’s Hun Sen hold talks over Ukraine, Myanmar

This handout photo taken and released by Cambodia’s Government Cabinet on Sunday shows Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida walking during a welcome ceremony at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. (AFP PHOTO / CAMBODIA’S GOVERNMENT CABINET / Saoyorn UDOM)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen on Sunday and is expected to seek further cooperation in dealing with Russia’s intensifying aggression on Ukraine.

In their meeting in Phnom Penh, Kishida and Hun Sen are also likely to talk about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ efforts to address the crisis in Myanmar, the military-controlled Asean member, as Cambodia chairs the 10-member group this year, according to a Japanese government official.

Following the Russian invasion of the former Soviet republic on Feb 24, Tokyo has been ramping up pressure on Moscow through economic sanctions in lockstep with the United States and other Group of Seven major developed countries, while Asean members have not been united in taking a resolute stance on Russia.

Early this month, Cambodia voted for a US-led UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, as one of the nearly 100 co-sponsoring nations of the resolution, along with Japan. The resolution was adopted with the approval of 141 members in total.

Seven other Asean nations, including Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, also voted for the resolution, while Vietnam, which has had friendly ties with Russia since its Soviet Union days, abstained from the council vote along with Laos.

Japan has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “serious violation of international law” that shakes the foundation of the international order.

The Cambodia summit also came just ahead of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn’s three-day trip from Monday to Myanmar as Asean special envoy. Myanmar’s military detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and toppled her democratically elected government in a Feb 1 coup last year.

Cambodia has taken on active diplomacy toward improving the situation in Myanmar. In January, Hun Sen travelled to the country’s capital Naypyitaw for talks with junta chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, becoming the first foreign leader to travel to the nation since the coup.

Kishida and Hun Sen are also likely to pledge to promote their nations’ bilateral cooperation in the security field, as this year marks the 30th anniversary of Japan’s dispatch of Self-Defense Forces personnel to Cambodia, the first time the SDF joined in a UN peacekeeping operation.

Kishida is on a three-day visit through Monday, which also took him to India. On Saturday, Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aired “serious concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” and urged an “immediate cessation of violence”.