Prime Minister Hun Manet arrived in Paris on the evening of January 13 (Paris time) for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, marking his first trip to Europe as the head of government.

Manet and Macron are expected to explore ways to enhance bilateral relations between their countries, while also addressing global issues and advocating for a rules-based international order, according to a press statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on January 12.

“The meeting between the two leaders offers an auspicious opportunity for both governments to reaffirm their collective commitment to elevating their traditional relations of excellent cordial friendship to new heights, charting a course of action to enhance and expand mutually beneficial cooperation within both bilateral and multilateral frameworks,” read the statement.

During the visit, the two leaders will preside over the signing of several documents.

The prime minister will also participate in the Europe-Cambodia Business Forum, organised by the French Business Association and representatives from several French companies.

He is set to meet other French leaders, including French Senate president Gerard Larcher and National Assembly president Yael Braun-Pivet.

Manet will also meet with Louise Mushikiwabo, secretary-general of La Francophonie, an organisation representing French-speaking countries, and Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, president of the Alliance des Patronats Francophones (APF).

Upon his arrival, Manet received a warm reception from members of the Cambodian diaspora from various European countries, with whom he is scheduled to meet,according to Cambodian ambassador to France Luy David.

David told National Television of Cambodia (TVK) that there are currently over 350,000 Cambodians living in France. He noted that Manet is the first foreign leader to officially visit France in 2024.

Manet’s itinerary also includes participating in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Prime Minister Hun Manet meets with Cambodian diaspora from across Europe in Paris on January 14. STPM

Another press statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Manet will attend the WEF from January 16-17 at the invitation of its founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab. 

The WEF will be held under the theme of rebuilding trust, focusing on principles including transparency, consistency and accountability.

“[Manet] is scheduled to speak about restoring faith in the global system at an informal lunch for world economic leaders, focusing on win-win approaches to address global concerns and foster peaceful engagement and dialogue,” said the ministry.

On the sidelines of the WEF, Manet will meet with Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and business figures from leading global companies to draw investments to Cambodia.

The Government Spokesperson Unit said that Cambodians residing in Europe came to support Manet, similar to what they had done during former Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visits to Europe previously.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that the popularity of the prime ministers from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is higher than the dissent among Cambodians abroad. 

“Whether in the US, Japan or Europe, the number of supporters significantly outnumbers those who oppose [them], reflecting [their] strong base of support abroad,” he stated.

He suggested that Cambodia adopt “colourful diplomacy”, seizing opportunities to meet with many world leaders.

Phea advocated for the Kingdom’s participation in regional and international forums, emphasising the importance of expressing the country’s stance on a rules-based international order and non-alignment. 

He also recommended demonstrating the country’s support for humanitarian efforts, mine clearance, climate initiatives and showcasing its favourable investment environment.