US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be paying a visit to Cambodia next week, in a meeting set to coincide with a two-day ASEAN defence ministers summit, a Cambodian official said yesterday.
“It will be the first time that Leon Panetta visits Cambodia to boost bilateral ties in military and security,” said Nem Sowath, director general of the Defence Ministry’s policy and foreign affairs department.
Expected to be discussed during the November 16 meeting, said Sowath, are the bolstering of military ties and “co-operation in military human resources development”.
The US has come under fire for its military assistance to Cambodia, which critics have argued has sometimes come with insufficient vetting of human rights violations.
As American foreign policy increasingly focuses on countering China’s influence in Asia, the US has ramped up military aid to the region.
In Cambodia, military aid spending almost tripled this year to $18.2 million.
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