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

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon