Patrick Murphy, the newly minted US Ambassador to Cambodia, arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday night intending to strengthen US-Cambodia relations.
US embassy in Phnom Penh spokesperson Emily Zeeberg said via email on Thursday that Murphy started his first day in office in Phnom Penh by meeting “his excellent Cambodian and American staff”.
“The ambassador’s priorities include strengthening the US-Cambodia relationship and supporting the Cambodian people.
“Ambassador Murphy looks forward to presenting his credentials in the near future and engaging with government authorities, civil society and other Cambodian stakeholders,” Zeeberg said.
Murphy was sworn in on Monday, with the ceremony presided by David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the US State Department.
Last Friday, Murphy released a video message saying he had visited Cambodia many times and that he is committed to strengthening relations and cooperation between of the two countries on development, trade, public health, law enforcement, culture preservation, and people-to-people exchanges.
“I am committed to supporting a healthy, prosperous, democratic and independent Cambodia,” he said.
Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said, “We expect that as an ambassador, he has to promote good relationship and cooperation between the two countries.
“I cannot say more than this because he has not presented his accreditation to the King.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is managing the preparations for the accreditation ceremony, said Siphan.
Likewise, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia said it was too early for him to comment on Murphy since he has just arrived.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that the US had recently been vocal in its demand for a change of the situation in Cambodia and of Cambodia’s relationship with China.
“Its new ambassador, a well-experienced diplomat, may not get much, though, unless it is prepared to use more coercive diplomacy and succeeds in getting China to loosen its tight grip on Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.