The militaries of Canada and Cambodia have demonstrated their willingness to strengthen ties and share experiences, according to General Vong Pisen, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

Pisen met with Paul Payne, Canadian military attache based in Vietnam, on September 18 at the RCAF headquarters in Phnom Penh.

According to the Ministry of National Defence, during the meeting, Pisen explained how the two nations have been connected diplomatically since 1952.

“For more than 70 years, Cambodia and Canada have had good relations, especially in trade, while military cooperation has also been good,” he said.

“In 2022, Canadian naval vessels docked at the port of Sihanoukville, improving the relationship between the two armed forces. In the future, we will continue to cooperate, through the exchange of intelligence on transnational crime and so on,” he added.

Pisen also requested Canadian support for the training of military human resources, suggesting that the Canadian side support upcoming meetings, including the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), within bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

In addition, he informed the Canadians of the goals of the new government led by Prime Minister Hun Manet. He explained that it will focus on an independent foreign policy and respect for the law, while building cooperation with other countries and international organisations for the cause of peace, stability, security and prosperity – for the region and the world.

According to the ministry, Payne expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome he received on his first visit to the Kingdom, and considered strengthening military ties between the two countries a joint venture.

“We have had a long relationship, so Canada is open to working with Cambodia to share experiences that will make the two countries’ military relations even closer,” he said.

In addition, Payne praised the Kingdom’s participation in humanitarian efforts and the cause of world peace through the Cambodian “blue helmet” forces under the UN umbrella. He confirmed that Canada is prepared to share humanitarian and natural disaster rescue technical skills with the RCAF.

Seun Sam, an international relations researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said while it is good that the two nations have shown their respective commitment to strengthening military ties, cooperation in this area appears to remain limited.

He said that any cooperation is likely to involve training, as Canada is a close ally of the US, which has an inconsistent defence strategy in its dealings with the Kingdom.