Laos and five other ASEAN member states attended a high-level gathering of air force delegations hosted by Myanmar on 12 September.
The 20th ASEAN Air Chiefs Conference (20th AACC), held in Nay Pyi Taw on 12 September, saw attendance by air force delegations from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
The Lao delegation was led by Brig. Gen. Khamlek Sengphachanh, representing the Lao People’s Liberation Army Air Force, according to NP Myanmar.
Two ASEAN member countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, chose not to participate in the annual conference, a decision that attracted attention due to the ongoing situation in Myanmar.
The decision not to attend the conference came after Myanmar faced widespread international condemnation for its airstrikes against pro-democracy forces and the ongoing violence in the country, which led to the destruction of public facilities and residential areas, as highlighted in a statement issued by ASEAN leaders after a summit last week.
Singapore and the Philippines opted to participate but chose to send their contributions via video messages rather than attending in person, indicating their reservations about engaging with Myanmar’s military-led government.
This divergence in participation reflects the complexities of ASEAN’s stance toward Myanmar. While the regional bloc has barred Myanmar from certain high-level meetings and summits in response to the political turmoil in the country, it continues to allow Myanmar’s involvement in other gatherings.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s military government has been strengthening ties with Russia, which has provided it with fighter jets and training for military pilots.
The country sent multiple ministers to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last week, which was also attended by Lao Vice President, Pany Yathotou, who met with Russian President Putin during the event.