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Minister asks Clinton to cancel Lon Nol debt

Minister asks Clinton to cancel Lon Nol debt

091002_05
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong addresses reporters at Phnom Penh International airport on Wednesday evening after returning from an official visit to the US.

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said that in a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week, he called on Washington to forgive more than US$300 million in Cambodian debt.

Having just returned from his trip to the US, where he addressed the UN General Assembly on Saturday and met with Clinton in New York City on Monday, Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the US should shift its approach to the Kingdom’s outstanding loans.

“I told [Clinton] that the debt came from Lon Nol, when he staged his coup in 1970 and brought war from Vietnam to Cambodia,” Hor Namhong said. “The US should, therefore, consider cancelling the debt or reinvesting it to support Cambodia’s economic development.”

US embassy spokesman John Johnson said that in addition to the debt issue, Clinton and Hor Namhong covered the Khmer Rouge tribunal and US engagement with Myanmar.

The two also discussed democracy and human rights, Johnson said, with their meeting coming on the heels of Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua’s meeting with Clinton on September 11.

“[Clinton] raised this issue after she met with the opposition lawmaker and NGO workers recently,” Hor Namhong said, adding: “I reassured her that Cambodia has thousands of NGOs, more than almost any other country in the world.”

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