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Old debt on agenda for PM’s Russia visit

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev walks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the capital's Peace Palace in November.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev walks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the capital's Peace Palace in November. Sreng Meng Srun

Old debt on agenda for PM’s Russia visit

Prime Minister Hun Sen will attempt to renegotiate the $1.5 billion of Soviet-era debt Cambodia accrued during the 1980s when he visits Russia in May, according to a post on the premier’s Facebook page.

The announcement followed a meeting this week between Hun Sen and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Vladimirovich during the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting – the first of its kind – in Hainan province, China.

Arriving at Phnom Penh International Airport following the conclusion of the meeting yesterday, the prime minister’s spokesman Kao Kim Hourn told reporters that alongside an overall reduction in Cambodia’s debt, Hun Sen had floated the idea that repayments could be used by Russia to invest in Cambodian development projects and purchase Cambodian agricultural exports.

Kim Hourn went on to justify the debt as a product of necessity. “The loan was taken out when Cambodia was under economic sanctions from many countries, and the loans were used to prevent the return of the Khmer Rouge,” said Kim Hourn, going on to hint at discontent over the lack of resolution to the debts so far.

In November 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev promised to reduce the interest rates on Cambodia’s Russian debts.

The Kingdom also owes the United States $460 million in loans taken out during by the Lon Nol regime in the 1970s, which the US government refuses to forgive.

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