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Cambodia welcomes US stance of non-interference

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New US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy meets Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Friday. HUN SEN'S FACEBOOK PAGE

Cambodia welcomes US stance of non-interference

Cambodia has welcomed new US Ambassador Patrick Murphy's stance of not interfering in the Kingdom's internal affairs or supporting violent regime change, said a press release from the Council of Ministers on Friday following a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The statement came two days after Murphy paid a courtesy call to Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, and a day after he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia welcomes the claim of His Excellency Patrick Murphy, the new US ambassador to Cambodia, who expressed the US' clear stance of not interfering in Cambodia's internal affairs and not supporting regime change or any change of government through violent or undemocratic means,” the press release said.

It added that Hun Sen said relations between the Kingdom and the US were not starting from zero but were a continuation of a previously healthy relationship.

“In this new context with His Excellency Patrick Murphy as the US ambassador, Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all ministries, institutions and sub-national administrations to work together to strengthen and extend the good relationship with the US.

"We should also celebrate the 70th anniversary of Cambodia-US diplomatic relations, and cooperation in the performing arts, sport, the POW/MIA recovery programme, graduate exchanges and the Peace Corps programme,” the press release said.

US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg told The Post on Sunday that Murphy met with high-level Cambodian officials, including Hun Sen and Sokhonn, in the days following his official presentation to King Norodom Sihamoni on October 19.

She said that in those meetings, Murphy expressed respect for Cambodia's culture and traditions and a strong desire to work together to strengthen bilateral relations.

Zeeberg said Murphy had pointed to the long-standing and successful cooperation between the two countries in many areas, including security and law enforcement, cultural preservation, public health, education, trade and investment, the environment, demining and people-to-people exchanges.

She said Murphy congratulated Cambodia on the 28th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, which have helped the country achieve progress in peace, prosperity, democracy, human rights and territorial integrity.

“The ambassador also highlighted several areas of well-known US and international concern, noting that meaningful steps to restore broad multi-party democracy and full rights and freedoms for political figures, civil society and media outlets would make real progress possible for Cambodia’s diplomatic relations.

“We look forward to making progress together in achieving a prosperous, democratic and sovereign Cambodia,” Zeeberg said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch said if the US did not interfere in Cambodia’s internal affairs, it would keep the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party out of the public eye.

He said Cambodia had not hidden anything from the US, including its claim that there were plans to permit China to build a naval base in the Kingdom. “I believe that Cambodia needs the US and the US also needs Cambodia.

"The US already has experience of unsuccessfully trying to solve problems through violence. Pushing Cambodia away would damage the bilateral interests of both countries.

"During the cold war, Cambodia moved closer to the Soviet Union and China. If the US shakes hands with Cambodia, Cambodia welcomes that and it would solve problems. Diplomatic relations should not entail violence,” Touch said.

He said the Kingdom needed US markets for its products, while the US needs Cambodia for geopolitical reasons.

"The Cambodian government is making chilly diplomatic relations warmer. This relationship will lead to a prosperous partnership with the Asean bloc and the Asia-Pacific region,” Touch said.

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