Prime Minister Hun Manet recently emphasised the nation’s sincere desire for positive relations with the US. He underlined that these relations should be founded upon mutual respect and benefits, extending beyond mere political interests.

At the same time, the US acknowledged the value of the enduring bilateral cooperation it has maintained with Cambodia.

Manet made the remark during a working session with a visiting US delegation from the Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Alex Carnes, staff director of the Subcommittee on the Department of State and Foreign Operations.

According to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office, the August 28 meeting took place at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh and was attended by US ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy.

It said Carnes extended his congratulations to Manet, marking this occasion as a turning point in the longstanding diplomatic ties between Cambodia and the US.

He acknowledged the extensive history of collaboration between the two nations, emphasising the US’ contributions to Cambodian social development, healthcare enhancement and educational advancements.

Manet said the current visit of the US delegation underscores the positive rapport shared between the two countries.

He reiterated to senior US officials that the Kingdom maintains an open and welcoming stance towards any collaborative endeavors intended to strengthen the relationship.

The prime minister also confirmed that the government is ready to work with the US to further expand relations and cooperation in the bilateral framework and multilateral forums.

Manet also thanked the US government and its people for their roles in contributing to the development of the country through assistance with the process of multiparty liberal democracy.

He added that the US also contributes to human resource training and demining efforts, and offers a robust market for Cambodia’s textile and garment products through the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). Additionally, it has provided Covid-19 vaccines and financial aid for health and economic recovery.

The press release notes that both parties engaged in discussions covering a range of topics, including reinforcing the foundations of liberal multiparty democracy, human rights, security, safety and socio-economic development.

A recent announcement from the US embassy on August 28 outlined the meeting’s focus on bolstering bilateral ties and addressing regional security concerns.

Murphy encouraged Manet’s administration to “reopen space for civic and independent media” within the country. He emphasised progress in democracy and human rights by ensuring unhindered political participation for all citizens.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that strengthening relations between the two nations requires mutual support. He stressed the Kingdom’s consistent stance on enhancing ties with the US.

Phea pointed out that their bilateral relations have recently encountered challenges due to perceived lack of genuine commitment from the US to enhance the relationship. He highlighted instances where Washington appeared to engage in actions deemed as interference in internal matters, despite advocating for principles such as human rights and democracy.

“The US appears to adopt double standards in terms of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It applies different approaches in various countries, even expanding cooperation with those that don’t adhere to democratic principles,” he noted.

Phea added that these principles, which the US champions, might be viewed by Cambodia as a political agenda aligned with US geopolitical interests.

He expressed hope for reconciliation and sincere efforts from both sides to promote genuine goodwill in fostering bilateral relations and cooperation.