Cambodia and Bangladesh have announced mutual support to further strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries.
The support was expressed during a phone conversation between Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn and his Bangladesh counterpart Abdul Momen, with both sides discussing several regional issues.
Sokhonn said both sides shared concerns regarding the vulnerability of the refugees in Cox’s Bazar to radicalism and extremism, and hoped that the repatriation process will be carried out in a safe and dignified manner.
“We also hope that in the best interests of the Myanmar people and our region at large, Myanmar will soon find peace and stability,” he said in a Facebook post on January 18.
“Cambodia remains optimistic about Bangladesh’s request to become an ASEAN sectoral dialogue partner. Both countries will continue to support each other in various ways,” he added.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, told The Post on January 19 that as the ASEAN chair, Cambodia intended to accept positive and constructive requests, including that of Bangladesh to become a dialogue partner.
“Bangladesh must fulfil the ASEAN requirements to become a partner, but Cambodia and Bangladesh have had relations since 1973 and cooperate closely in the fields of agriculture, medicine and textiles,” he said.
Mengdavid added that the two countries had a good opportunity to encourage and attract investors from East Asia and South Asia through the economic corridors of China-India-Myanmar along the route of the Thai-Cambodian economies.
Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID), told The Post on January 19 that Bangladesh could have become a dialogue partner, but instead joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).
“Maybe the veteran politicians of Bangladesh thought that joining SAC would bring greater benefits than partnering with ASEAN,” he said.
He noted that when relations between SAC members became rocky, Bangladesh saw that ASEAN was important and necessary. Cambodia seems to be strongly pursuing diplomacy to strengthen its economy and trade with Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh applauded Cambodia when it took over the chair of ASEAN. Bangladesh wants to be a key dialogue partner in resolving issues in Myanmar as well, especially the problems in the state of Rakhine with the Rohingya. Bangladesh thinks it remains a stalemate, and the repatriation of Rohingya in that area is very slow,” he said.