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ASEAN, US to up ties in Nov

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Prime Minister Hun Sen, ASEAN leaders and the US President Joe Biden pose for photo at the ASEAN-US Summit on May 13. SPM

ASEAN, US to up ties in Nov

ASEAN and the US have committed to signing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the 10th ASEAN-US Summit to be held in Cambodia in November, in a pact made during the ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC, last week.

ASEAN-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership seeks to achieve a “meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial” relationship, and is expected to be agreed upon at the November summit, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in a statement released on May 14.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen and other ASEAN leaders expressed support for the enhancement of ASEAN-US dialogue relations to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and committed to working closely with the US to ensure that … cooperation in all priority fields identified during the two-day deliberations will bring tangible mutual benefit to the peoples of ASEAN and the US, thereby contributing to regional peace, stability and growing prosperity,” the statement said.

During the May 12-13 summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen also personally invited US president Joe Biden to attend the 10th ASEAN-US Summit.

Various topics had been discussed at the Washington summit, including pandemic recovery, the forging of stronger economic ties, promoting maritime cooperation and climate change.

“During the discussion on Climate Action, Clean Energy Transformation and Sustainable Infrastructure, Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed the US’ renewed commitment to the climate

change agenda and its much-applauded return to the Paris Agreement,” the statement said, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from during his term in office.

Hun Sen said Cambodia wished to deepen cooperation in addressing climate change issues, such as biodiversity conservation, transition to clean energy and green growth, as well as to promote sustainable development in the region. He said that, as a low carbon-emitting nation, Cambodia is fully committed to contributing to the global effort.

The summit also touched on the situation in Ukraine and the Myanmar crisis. On Ukraine, Hun Sen reiterated Cambodia’s full support of the UN Secretary General’s efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis and to find a peaceful solution that will end the conflict.

On the situation in Myanmar, Hun Sen said Cambodia was “strongly committed” to achieve progress on three immediate priorities: ending violence, ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in most need, and building an environment conducive to enabling a political dialogue between all parties concerned.

According to the ministry’s press statement, Hun Sen reaffirmed Cambodia’s commitment to strictly abide by the Constitution, which does not permit any foreign military bases on the Kingdom’s territory, in response to the recent expression by the US of its suspicions of a Chinese military presence in Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said the ASEAN-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was necessary. But he criticised ASEAN leaders for failing to raise issues of human rights and democracy in the region, and expressed worry that the lack of discussion may hinder positive change on these issues.

“We see that ASEAN did not talk much about human rights and democracy. This failure makes the region remain weak and fragile in matters of human rights and democracy,” he said.

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