Newly appointed US Ambassador Patrick Murphy paid Interior Minister Sar Kheng a courtesy call on Friday to discuss a wide range of issues on which both sides held differing views.
Speaking to the press after the meeting at the Ministry of Interior, Murphy said he and Sar Kheng had also discussed areas of cooperation, including strengthening collaborations on wildlife crime, people trafficking, child protection and efforts to counter international criminal activities.
He said security and public safety during the Water Festival were important and commended Sar Kheng for taking the responsibility to ensure this.
Murphy thanked Cambodia for the services provided to the US embassy and said he looked forward to enjoying the Water Festival celebrations.
“We agreed to talk frankly on issues in which both sides had held differing views. I hope Cambodia can make progress in achieving full multi-party democracy in accordance with the Constitution, and that all Cambodians, whether inside or outside the country, can participate in the political process, even if they hold different views.
“We have noted that recent detentions have denied some freedoms for some Cambodians, and we hope that this can be restored. That would be good for Cambodia and bilateral ties, as well as for Cambodia's international standing,” he said.
Sar Kheng said after the meeting that while Cambodia and the US had a long history of warm relations, the countries needed to further strengthen ties through initiating new programmes. He said Cambodia would consider what Murphy had said regarding democracy and human rights.
“We discussed the issues that Murphy raised in the context of Cambodia, a country adhering to multi-party democracy. So we will do what is best for Cambodia to maintain peace, stability and development,” he said.
Asked whether some concessions could be made with the former opposition party as in 2013, Sar Kheng said: “I cannot tell, but we will do everything for the interests of our country.”