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Australian diplomat bites back

Austalian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has responded to one of her predecessors, Gareth Evans, who accused her of failing to deliver a “robust critique” when she met Hun Sen on February 22 in a Friday op-ed that excoriated Cambodia’s political leaders for abuses.

In an interview with the ABC yesterday, Bishop, of the ruling Liberal Party, said she had raised human rights issues.

“I note Mr Evans has chosen to make these criticisms in the week following my visit to Cambodia, yet remained silent when [former Labor Party foreign minister] Bob Carr visited.”

“I raised human rights in each meeting with the prime minister, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Cambodia.”

After Bishop’s visit, the Australian Embassy said the minister had reaffirmed the statement Australia made at a UN rights review on Cambodia in January.

At the UN, Australia had expressed concern about restrictions on assembly and “disproportionate violence” against protesters.

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