As the 30th Asean Summit concluded in Manila, a Foreign Ministry statement reported Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call to the economic bloc to ensure peace and security in the region in order to maintain economic progress.
The ministry statement, issued last night, also points to the premier’s one-on-one meeting with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, though details were not provided about the interaction. Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry could not be reached yesterday.
In October, Hun Sen did mention Duterte while telling local authorities to ramp up efforts to eliminate Cambodia’s “booming” drug trade. Despite the name drop, Hun Sen distanced himself from the draconian tactics identified with his Asean counterpart.
According to AFP, Duterte’s statement as chairman of the summit took a soft tone – failing to mention China’s continued push to militarise the South China Sea and an international ruling last year dismissing China’s claims to large swathes of the contentious waters.
Cambodia was criticised in 2016 for obstructing and consequently watering down a joint statement at a similar meet, which again did not refer to The Hague ruling. The same accusations were made in 2012, with experts linking the Kingdom’s obstructions to increased financial backing from China.