Prime Minister Hun Sen called on Minister of Finance Keat Chhon Thursday to repay a US$3 million debt owed to French aircraft firm ATR for the leasing of three airplanes by the now-defunct national carrier Royal Air Cambodge.
Hun Sen said that France had repeatedly asked for the money to be repaid, a debt that has lingered since the airline went bankrupt in 2001.
"Let's repay the [debt], to them. Mister ambassador [France] has raised this debt a few times," Hun Sen told Thursday's economic forum in Phnom Penh. "The [former] president of France [Jacques Chirac] already reminded me twice."
The premier expressed dissatisfaction at the loss of millions of dollars in government funds as a result of the Royal Air Cambodge fiasco, adding that he wished to see the creation of a new national carrier. Keat Chhon confirmed that the ministry has yet repay the ATR. The French embassy declined to comment Thursday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NETH PHEAKTRA