The South China Sea dispute is not an issue that should be “internationalised” at the upcoming ASEAN Summit, the government told visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said he told his Australian counterpart that Cambodia would keep pushing for a Code of Conduct that encourages discussions about the dispute, but preventing “complications”.
In his first overseas trip as foreign minister, Carr, a former state leader who came out of retirement to assume the federal role on March 6, also met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An yesterday.
“I informed Bob Carr . . . that we should encourage China and ASEAN to begin to discuss . . . a COC [Code of Conduct of the South China Sea],” Hor Namhong said. “I [said] we should not internationalise the issues, because it will lead to complications and it doesn’t serve any country’s interest.”
The government announced last week that the South China Sea would not be on the agenda at next week’s ASEAN Summit.
Hor Namhong said Cambodia was seeking to strengthen its economic relationship with Australia.
“The political and diplomatic relationships and the co-operation of the two countries are very good, but I requested that [the] economic and trade relationships be improved,” he said.
Carr said he would urge the Australian business community to increase trade with and invest more in Cambodia.
Carr, who visited the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday, announced a further AUD$1.6 million for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, AUD$6.2 million more over the next three years for demining initiatives and an additional AUD$1 million for Angkor Wat.
He also praised AusAid, his government’s overseas aid program, and affirmed its commitment to working with Cambodia to manage disasters such as floods.
“I am proud the Australian development assistance program has $77 million allocated [for Cambodia] in 2011-2012, which focuses on agricultural development, health services, infrastructure and access to justice,” he said.