Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo (L) and Cambodia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong (R) in a meeting yesterday, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
A senior Cambodian official expressed thanks to one of his Chinese counterparts yesterday for assisting in the careful transportation of the body of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk from Beijing – where he died on Monday aged 89 – to Phnom Penh two days later.
“The death of the King Father was not only a big loss for Cambodian people, but also for the Chinese, because he was a top leader of Cambodia and a close friend of China,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong.
“Therefore, I take this opportunity to thank the Chinese state councillor for... taking care of the King Father and accompanying the return of the body from Beijing to Phnom Penh.”
Sihanouk’s body arrived on board an Air China Boeing 747 at Phnom Penh’s international airport on Wednesday.
His coffin was brought through a funeral procession attended by hundreds of thousands that ended at the Royal Palace.
Namhong’s remarks came after a meeting with Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the countries reaffirmed their strong ties.
Bingguo reportedly told Namhong that the King’s passing will unite the Cambodian people, citing the government estimate of a million attendees at the funeral procession.
On Wednesday afternoon Bingguo accompanied the body of Sihanouk on the Air China flight, along with Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Speaking from Beijing earlier in the week, the premier vowed to uphold royal traditions in Cambodia.
“I will protect the monarchy, the royalists, the Queen Mother and King Sihamoni, so King [Father] don’t worry. I promised before your face and soul of the King [Father]. Please rest in peace, I will be protecting,” he said.
Sihanouk’s body will lie in state for three months before being cremated. Sisowath Thomico, personal secretary to the King Father, said that Chinese and Cambodian doctors yesterday were using a chemical substance to preserve the body for the duration.
To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at [email protected]