Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn highlighted the importance of long-term relations between Cambodia and Italy and encouraged the further strengthening and enhancement of bilateral relations and cooperation.

Sokhonn made the remarks during his meeting with Lorenzo Galanti – the Italian ambassador to Cambodia with residence in the Thai capital Bangkok – in Phnom Penh on April 26, according to the foreign ministry’s press release after the meeting.

In recent days, the Italian government has donated more than 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to Cambodia. The ceremonial handover was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sokhonn said he considers the aid a demonstration of global solidarity in the fight against Covid-19. He also spoke with Galanti about the incident in early 2020 when Cambodia allowed the Westerdam cruise ship – with some Italian citizens onboard – to dock at Preah Sihanouk International Port during the outbreak of Covid-19, while other countries turned the vessel away.

Italy has also been active in providing assistance to Cambodia under the auspices of the Apsara National Authority – a body tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park – through the training of experts in the preservation of ancient Khmer temples.

According to the press release, the Italian envoy praised the “excellent” results of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Cambodia and thanked the Kingdom for providing free vaccinations to Italians living in Cambodia.

Sokhonn briefed Galanti on the situation in Myanmar and the challenges it represents as well as the results of his first visit to the predominantly Buddhist country as the ASEAN special envoy. They also spoke about the next steps to be taken for promoting the implementation of the ASEAN five-point consensus on the crisis.

The press release stated that Galanti commended the efforts and initiatives of Hun Sen as the current chair of ASEAN and Sokhonn as the special envoy for trying to find a solution to the crisis in Myanmar and he hopes that Cambodia will achieve fruitful results with their efforts.

“The ambassador also said he appreciated [Sokhonn’s] focus on the distribution of humanitarian aid to the people of Myanmar. He also thanked Cambodia for supporting Italy as an ASEAN dialogue partner.

“[Sokhonn] thanked Italy for its assistance to the ASEAN Regional Centre for Mine Action [ARMAC] and the ambassador reaffirmed Italy’s continued support for ARMAC,” the ministry added.

Galanti stated that Italy was nominated to host the World Expo 2030 and had requested Cambodia’s support as the Kingdom had in the past supported Italy’s candidacy in various other UN professional bodies.

“I would like to thank the Italian government and [Galanti] for his continued support of Cambodia, especially through projects with the Apsara National Authority and providing vaccines to Cambodia to fight Covid-19 at this time,” Sokhonn said in a Facebook post.

“With a common commitment and vision, I am confident that bilateral relations between our two countries will continue to grow steadily,” he added.

Heng Kimkong, a visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Centre, said that to accelerate its post-pandemic economic recovery, Cambodia needs support from all development partners.

“It therefore needs to strengthen its relations with as many countries as possible, including Italy, which recently donated vaccines to the Kingdom,” he told The Post on April 27.