International News

Pelosi Taiwan visit will dominate ASEAN meeting

#Pelosi #Taiwan #visit #dominate #ASEAN #meeting

Southeast Asia’s foreign ministers are set to explore ways to calm rising tensions over Taiwan at regional talks on Wednesday after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival on the island, angering Beijing.

Pelosi’s dramatic late-night arrival in Taipei despite threats of reprisals from China is likely to dominate the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Phnom Penh, which was set to focus on the bloody crisis in Myanmar.

Attention will instead turn to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his American counterpart Antony Blinken – both flying to the Cambodian capital on Thursday and Friday for regional security talks with ASEAN.

ASEAN spokesman Kung Phoak, Cambodia’s deputy foreign minister, said the meeting will try to calm things down.

He told reporters the ministers would try to find ways for the bloc to help “so that the situation in Taiwan remains stable, which does not lead to conflict and political heat between all parties involved does not escalate.”

Late Tuesday, China vowed there would be “targeted military action” in response to Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island that Beijing claims as part of its territory.

The bloc of 10 is divided between countries with close ties to China, such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, and others more suspicious of Beijing and its growing international clout.

– Tensions in Myanmar –

The ministers, who are meeting in person for the first time since the pandemic, are expected to lament the lack of progress on the bloc’s “five-point consensus” plan, agreed last year as a way out of the conflict in Myanmar.

When the military took power last year and ousted the civilian government of Aun San Suu Kyi, the country erupted in violent unrest. The death toll from a crackdown by the junta has surpassed 2,100, according to local observers.

ASEAN, long ridiculed as a toothless figure of speech giving political cloaks to repressive regimes, has so far spearheaded futile efforts to restore peace.

The bloc condemned the execution of four prisoners by the military last week, with some member states growing frustrated at the lack of progress.

The five-point plan calls for an immediate end to the violence and for dialogue between the junta and those opposed to the coup.

But after more than a year of no progress, Malaysia has said it will come up with a framework for its implementation.

Myanmar itself will not be represented at the meeting after other members said they would not accept a junta minister and the generals refused to send another official instead.

Some member states, led by Malaysia and the Philippines, are pushing to prevent the military regime from sending ministers to any ASEAN meetings – including November’s summit – until there is progress on the five-point plan.

– South China Sea –

Along with Taiwan, the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea will be another hot topic on the agenda.

Beijing claims most of the sea – with competing territorial claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Cambodia – a key Beijing ally – last hosted ASEAN in 2012 and has been accused of siding with China over disputed and resource-rich waters, resulting in a failure to issue a communiqué.

But based on the progress of a meeting of senior officials, Kung Phoak said he was confident consensus could be reached and a joint statement released.

“I am confident that things are moving in the right direction. We’re almost there,” he said on Tuesday.

Alongside Blinken and Wang, Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov – who landed in Myanmar for talks with the junta before traveling on to Cambodia – and the European Union’s Josep Borrell will attend meetings with ASEAN counterparts later in the week.

Ministers are expected to address issues ranging from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to North Korean missile tests and regional security concerns.

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