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Cambodia ‘can’t afford’ to buy Indo weapons

A government spokesman yesterday poured cold water on an offer by Indonesia to sell Cambodia weapons, citing budget constraints and the Kingdom’s preference for peace.

The proposal by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was discussed with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Jakarta.

Widodo suggested that Cambodia could buy weaponry and uniforms as a follow-up to previous training programs run by Indonesia for Cambodian soldiers, the Indonesian Embassy confirmed.

Acknowledging the friendly ties between the countries, government spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia wouldn’t buy weapons because “we don’t have any money” to do so.

“The money in the national budget is to develop the military’s integration and soldiers’ well-being,” he said, adding that Cambodia didn’t need “weapons of mass destruction”.

“We use diplomatic channels and peaceful means to solve traditional conflict.”

According to statistics from Australia’s Department of Defence, Cambodia’s defence spending increased from about $100 million in 2008 to $277 million last year.

The report noted Cambodia relied heavily on China for military aid to buy weapons, citing the 2013 purchase of 12 Z-9 helicopters, financed by a large Chinese loan.

Jon Grevatt, Asia-Pacific industry reporter for defence analyst IHS Jane’s, said Cambodia would struggle to afford anything other than small arms and ammunition unless Indonesia provided it as military aid, which was “unlikely”.

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