PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen will visit junta-ruled Myanmar next month, his spokesman said Tuesday, likely becoming the first foreign leader to do so since the Southeast Asian country's military staged a coup in February.
Hun Sen will visit Myanmar on Jan. 7-8 at the invitation of its top leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, spokesman Eang Sophalleth told reporters after the prime minister met with junta-appointed foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin in the capital Phnom Penh.
Wunna Maung Lwin's two-day visit from Monday is part of Cambodia's efforts as chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations for 2022 to bring Myanmar back into the fold diplomatically.
It is believed to be his second trip abroad following one to Thailand in February. That trip took place just weeks after the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi's democratically elected government.
Since the coup, ASEAN had excluded Min Aung Hlaing from ASEAN-related summits over his government's failure to give full access to an ASEAN special envoy tasked with mediating among Myanmar's feuding parties to find a solution to its political crisis.
But in an abrupt change of course, Hun Sen said Monday that Myanmar's military government should be allowed to fully participate in ASEAN meetings.
"It's time to restrengthen ASEAN, from nine turning back to 10," he said. "We need to invite all ASEAN leaders for the meetings. At the ministerial level, we need to invite the minister, and at the summit, it must be the top leader."
Member countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia have made strong calls for the return of democratic rule in their fellow member country.
On Monday, a military-controlled court in Myanmar handed down a multiyear prison term to Suu Kyi for incitement and breaking coronavirus regulations. She has also been indicted on a number of other charges, including electoral fraud, graft and violating a colonial-era official secrets law.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.