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PM Receives ASEAN Chairmanship Gavel at End of ASEAN Summit Week

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen has symbolically received the ASEAN chairmanship gavel from Brunei. Cambodia will actually assume the chairmanship in January. Thursday afternoon’s online event marked the end of a busy week for the Prime Minister, attending no fewer than 11 events and meetings related to the 38th and 39th ASEAN summits.

It was a symbolic end to a week of dialogue. Prime Minister Hun Sen receiving the ASEAN gavel from Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. It symbolises the handing over of the ASEAN chairmanship, although Cambodia’s tenure will begin only in January. 2022 will be the third time Cambodia has been ASEAN chair, after 2002 and 2012. It also comes at a pivotal time for the region, as it slowly reopens after two years of Covid-19 restrictions and gets its respective economies back on track.

The pandemic has been a theme running through the various ASEAN summits which started on Tuesday. Not just within ASEAN itself, but also with its dialogue partners such as Australia, China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States. Multilateralism and peace have also been recurring themes in the Prime Minister’s remarks.

Cambodia was the last country to become a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1999. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged ASEAN leaders to fast-track the entry of Timor-Leste. It has been waiting to be an ASEAN member since 2011.

By building stronger relationships with ASEAN and its partners, the Prime Minister hopes this will help the kingdom’s economy bounce back stronger than ever. Key to this is the country’s reopening, which the Prime Minister reiterated on Thursday will be done in stages, starting with the Vaccine Tourism Program which gets underway at the end of November in Sihanoukville and Darasakor in Koh Kong. Siem Reap will be able to welcome fully-vaccinated tourists back from January.



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