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Tea Banh discusses rights record with US

DEFENCE Minister Tea Banh told reporters in Washington that he “clarified” concerns about Cambodia’s human rights record and discussed increased bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and the United States in meetings this week with senior American officials.

On Monday, Tea Banh met with US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, according to a statement released by the US embassy in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Tea Banh told reporters from Voice of America radio and Radio Free Asia that he and Gates discussed increasing military cooperation between the two countries. The US embassy said that the two focused on “peacekeeping, maritime security and counterterrorism”.

Tea Banh said that in his meeting with Steinberg, the American “addressed concerns about human rights issues in Cambodia”.

“I clarified to [Steinberg] that while some concerns are valid, each country has its own law, and in reality, Cambodia is very progressive in its respect for human rights,” the Cambodian defence minister told RFA.

Both Tea Banh and the US embassy cited the selection of Cambodia to host 2010’s Global Peace Operations Initiative, an event organised by the US State Department to train international peacekeepers, as an example of successful cooperation between the two countries.

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