Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke by phone yesterday with his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn.
The two ministers underscored the importance of coordination between the French presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Cambodian chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), given the strategic partnership between these two regional organizations and our two countries' shared desire to further strengthen those ties through the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN's Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. With that in mind, the EU invited nine of ASEAN's foreign ministers and its Secretary-General to take part in its Indo-Pacific Forum on February 22.
Mr. Le Drian expressed his deep concern over the deterioration of the situation in Burma, characterized by abuses in Kayah State. He reaffirmed France's support for ASEAN's efforts to resolve the crisis and emphasized the need to implement every aspect of the five-point consensus, including the establishment of a political dialogue involving all stakeholders. Given that the Burmese military regime has just created new obstacles to the delivery of medical supplies, the Minister reiterated the need for safe, unimpeded access for humanitarian workers, as well as France's full support for the efforts of ASEAN's Special Envoy and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Myanmar in this regard.
The minister also raised the issue of the South China Sea, noting the importance France attributes to all parties' compliance with international law, and specifically with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is fundamental to the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. France's naval deployments in this region reflect its commitment to regional security and stability, based on respect for the freedom of navigation. The minister reiterated France's wish to become an observer in two working groups at the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+).
The conversation between the two ministers came a few months after the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, which marked the return of peace to Cambodia, and on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of our bilateral relationship. France hopes to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Cambodia, notably in the areas of French language learning, peacekeeper training, cultural heritage and sustainable tourism.