Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - King Sihamoni, US envoy Murphy meet

King Sihamoni, US envoy Murphy meet

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
New US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy meets with King Norodom Sihamoni. US Embassy in Cambodia via Twitter

King Sihamoni, US envoy Murphy meet

US Ambasador Patrick Murphy has hiked to the top of Phnom Bakheng temple, ridden his bike around Silk Island, had clothing tailored and indulged in Phnom Penh’s famous street food offerings – but he has still not met a single government representative in his official capacity.

“After presenting myself as the new US ambassador before the King, I am waiting to meet with members of the Cambodian government to discuss efforts in strengthening the bond of friendship between the two countries,” Murphy said on Twitter.

This came soon after he formally introduced himself to King Norodom Sihamoni on Saturday – exactly a month after arriving in the Kingdom.

In his official video address after he was appointed ambassador, Murphy committed to strengthening US-Cambodia cooperation in development, trade, public health, law, culture and people-to-people exchanges, adding that he had visited the Kingdom on several previous occasions.

“I am committed to helping our two countries strengthen these and other ties, as well as support a healthy prosperous democratic and independent Cambodia,” he said.

Murphy’s appointment comes amid strained US-Cambodia relations.

There is currently a bipartisan US Senate and Congress move being considered to potentially suspend the Kingdom’s access to the Generalised System of Preferences – a trade preferences scheme offering reduced tariffs on certain Cambodian exports – through the Cambodia Democracy Act.

Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan said he considered Murphy’s meeting with King Sihamoni to be a tacit recognition of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s landslide election victory last year, despite the pending bill.

“Undoubtedly, when the US decides to send its Ambassador to the Kingdom, it recognises the Cambodian government elected last year. So the outlawed rebels [Cambodia National Rescue Party] are now hopeless because the US Ambassador was not sent to meet [them],” Eysan said.

The director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia Kin Phea told The Post that Murphy’s remarks were “positive” because they indicated a “greater commitment and honest effort to improve relations”.

“If one postures as the boss and the other acts like a subordinate, there will be undue pressure and the relations will not be smooth,” he said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay told The Post that it would be difficult for the US to observe the Kingdom’s foreign policy, given Cambodia’s “iron-clad friendship with China” and “the US government’s readiness to use coercive diplomacy”.

US Embassy spokesperson Emily Zeeberg could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

However, last December Murphy issued a two-page statement to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which read: “If I am to be recognised, I will work closely with the US Congress to make progress in the US interest in Cambodia, promote basic democracy, human rights and freedom.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the