Three Chinese naval vessels and a United States warship docked at Sihanoukville on Sunday, with Defence Minister Tea Banh yesterday meeting officials from the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy to discuss military cooperation.
Banh, also a deputy prime minister, did not meet with representatives of the USS Germantown, but insisted there was “no problem”, saying Cambodia was open “not only for China, but for the United States and other friends”.
The defence minister greeted the PLA Navy’s deputy chief of staff for the East Sea Navy and the commander of the frigates. The Chinese ship will return to China on October 20 after holding joint exercises with the Cambodian navy.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Banh noted his visit to Beijing this month, where he signed defence cooperation agreements with his Chinese counterparts, including potential work to improve Cambodia’s air defence system.
He conceded Cambodia’s military currently lacked the capacity for some sophisticated weapons. “Cambodia hasn’t the ability to purchase a fighter jet or a warship; we have plans, but we are not capable, so we delay for a while,” he said.
Meanwhile, the USS Germantown will play host to a reception for US Embassy staff, Cambodian naval officials and foreign attachés, according to a press release. Its crew, which includes a marine combat logistics battalion, arrived in Cambodia after undertaking exercises in the Philippines.