Cambodia and France have called for an immediate cessation of airstrikes and drone attacks by Russia against the Ukrainian people and civilian infrastructure, while Prime Minister Hun Sen called his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron a “frank” and “trusted” conversation.

“Following the conference ‘In Solidarity with the Ukrainian People and aware of the suffering of the Ukrainian people resulting from the war waged by Russia’, [France and Cambodia] call for the immediate cessation of airstrikes and drone attacks on Ukrainian civilian populations and infrastructure.

“[We] would like all international partners to join in this call and exert their influence to this end,” said the Elysee Palace in a statement after their meeting on December 13.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Hun Sen said he appreciated and was motivated by what Macron had done for the people of Ukraine, while also thanking France for contributing to bringing peace and development to Cambodia.

Hun Sen told Macron that there was a surprise for him just before his departure for Europe: A stone inscription on a statue made in 1925, currently aged 97 years, that was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in 1977.

Now, he said, Cambodia will restore this statue as a symbol of solidarity with France.

“This statue will be placed right in front of the French embassy in Phnom Penh, and I think that the president will not object to this project,” he said.

Hun Sen noted in a social media post on December 14 that Macron is his “close, frank, and trusted” conversation partner in strengthening the friendship between Cambodia and France.

“I thanked Emmanuel Macron for offering this sincere friendship,” he said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou said Cambodia is against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because it has already experienced the state of being invaded and endured the hardship of war for many years, while also suffering from embargos imposed by powerful countries during the cold war.

“So, the appeal of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Emmanuel Macron was the right one. We have to support each other and enforce the UN Charter and international laws. We don’t support invasions which pose dangers to innocent people,” he said.

He said the war is making the world suffer through political and economic crises, including food and energy security crises, and that it could lead to a large-scale war such as a world war if nuclear weapons of any type are used by Russia.

“It is innocent people who are suffering, especially during this cold winter,” he added.