Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13.
During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN leaders will also be dining with President Joe Biden in the White House and will meet Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the sidelines of the summit.
According to a statement by the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, ASEAN leaders will have a discussion with US Vice-President Kamala Harris and cabinet secretaries on climate action, clean energy and sustainable infrastructure.
“The leaders will also meet with American business leaders to discuss economic cooperation,” it said.
On May 10, Hun Sen led a large delegation including foreign minister Prak Sokhonn, public works minister Sun Chanthol, commerce minister Pan Sorasak and education minister Hang Chuon Naron.
“As the ASEAN chair, Cambodia is due to co-chair the special summit which also marks the 45th anniversary of the ASEAN-US dialogue partnership.
“I will be meeting some high-profile leaders and Cambodian-American citizens who are waiting to receive me,” Hun Sen said in a Facebook post on May 10, while also advising them to stay safe and healthy.
The entourage left a day after the burial of Hun Sen’s older brother in Kampong Cham province where he passed away from a heart attack at the age of 72.
In an audio message, Hun Sen said although he has yet to obtain closure from his brother’s passing, his duty to the nation and as ASEAN chair comes first.
“This is difficult, but we must do it for our motherland, religion and the King. However, I will have the opportunity to meet with our compatriots in the US,” he said.
Hun Sen will also have a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Ching and other ASEAN leader on the sidelines of the summit.
He said he will also meet with foreign friends who had “promised” to meet him in Washington, DC, and with a group of American friends to do “some work”.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, told The Post on May 10 that the summit signalled US’ concern and commitment in the region.
He said Cambodia is likely to show the US that it is friends with nations that support development and global peace.
He explained that Cambodia does not intend to back any country that fights with another nation.
“That is to say, Cambodia needs all friends in providing assistance to Cambodia in the development of the nation.
“Cambodia will further encourage US investors to continue investing in Cambodia in order to devise a joint economic development plan between Cambodia and the US in the future, especially after Covid-19,” Mengdavid said.