Indian Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh highlighted his government’s commitment to providing training assistance to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), in the interests of fostering stronger cooperation between the militaries of the two nations.

Singh met with Hun Manet, RCAF deputy commander-in-chief and commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, on February 3 as the latter paid a February 2-4 official visit.

Manet briefed Singh on the terms of reference (ToR) that he discussed and signed with Indian Army commander Manoj Pande, according to the RCAF’s February 4 social media post. The ToR will mark a new closeness between the two militaries and would open a path to increased practical cooperation.

“The defence minister [Singh] appreciated the ongoing efforts of both armies to maintain and enhance relations. He also confirmed India’s commitment to helping the RCAF with training,” it added.

“[Singh] described the visit by the RCAF delegation as evidence of the close friendship between the two nations. Cambodia and India are celebrating the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations and are committed to bolstering bilateral relations, especially in the fields of culture, human resource development, infrastructure connectivity and defence,” it continued.

According to the Indian Army’s February 3 post, Pande extended a warm welcome to Manet, and the two discussed possible avenues for improved defence cooperation.

During the interaction, ToR for staff talks between the two armies were signed. Folders on customised training programmes for the RCAF were also exchanged.

The RCAF said Manet also met Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who underscored India’s commitment to strengthening and developing relations with Cambodia for the sake of peace, stability and development in the region.

“[Manet] appreciated the solidarity, friendship, trust and cooperation between Cambodia and India, especially during periods where Cambodia faced difficulties. Manet has also confirmed an agreed-upon direction of more multi-sectoral connectivity for the future,” it added.

Following the meeting, the Indian foreign minister took to social media announcing that the two sides had exchanged views on the geopolitical situation and regional challenges, and had agreed on the need for independent-minded nations to cooperate closely. They discussed potential cooperation on defence, security and digital connectivity.

In a February 4 press release, the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh said the visit would further strengthen the defence cooperation, as well as the bonds of friendship, between the two countries.

“The assistance by India to the capacity building of the RCAF is a key area of cooperation, and has been further strengthened and deepened with the customised courses that were announced during the visit. They are tailored to the requirements of the RCAF,” it added.

Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, said the modernisation of the military required human resource development.

“Diversification of defence relations with the major power in South Asia – in addition to cooperation with China – contributes to the strengthening of the Kingdom’s defence capacity,” he added.

“India is a major power in the region. It is implementing its ‘Look East’ policy to bolster its standing and protect peace and prosperity in the region,” he continued.