Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Outgoing US Ambassador in military cooperation talks

Outgoing US Ambassador in military cooperation talks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Outgoing US Ambassador to Cambodia William A Heidt. Heng Chivoan

Outgoing US Ambassador in military cooperation talks

Outgoing US Ambassador to Cambodia William A Heidt on Monday met with Secretary of State at the Ministry of National Defence General Neang Phat to discuss possible challenges and opportunities in rebuilding military cooperation between the nations.

The topics were raised during Heidt’s farewell visit to the Ministry of National Defence, according to a US Embassy Facebook post.

All military exercises with the US were suspended when the Ministry of National Defence “temporarily postponed” the annual Angkor Sentinel joint exercises in January last year, saying the Kingdom’s military “was busy with a drugs crackdown and preparations for election security”.

It then “postponed indefinitely” a US Navy Mobile Construction Battalion humanitarian programme in which the “Seabees” work with their Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) counterparts on community service projects across the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, in March last year, Cambodia and China held their first “Golden Dragon” joint military exercise.

The drills, which involved some 100 Chinese troops, were seen by many as yet another sign of Cambodia turning increasingly towards China.

“Chinese aid does not only contribute to the development of Cambodia’s economy, it also helps the strengthening of the Kingdom’s independence and sovereignty,” Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said at the closing of the Golden Dragon exercises.

As military cooperation between Cambodia and China increases, the US expressed concerns over a claim there was a Chinese naval base under construction in Koh Kong province.

Prime Minister Hun Sen responded by saying foreign military bases in the Kingdom are not allowed.

In response, Heidt said the concerns should be addressed transparently, according to a US Embassy statement on its Facebook page.

“The Ambassador acknowledged the government’s public statements that Cambodia would never allow a foreign military base on Cambodian soil and noted the importance of continued dialogue and transparency on this issue,” it said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said “Cambodia spurns the American approach at its peril”.

“It is in Cambodia’s interest to renew this cooperation with the US to balance China’s increasing domination,” he said.

Emily Zeeberg, the US Embassy spokesperson, declined to comment on the matter.

MOST VIEWED

  • Reports: Rainsy barred from Jakarta flight

    Sam Rainsy was on Wednesday refused entry to a flight from Malaysia to Indonesia, media reported late on Wednesday. The “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s announced return to the Kingdom on Independence Day on Saturday failed to occur. Rainsy

  • Government studying EU’s preliminary report on EBA

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Wednesday said the government was studying the EU Commission’s preliminary report on the human rights situation in the Kingdom that could lead to a suspension of access to its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement. The

  • Gov’t: Rainsy’s ‘coup plot’ a failure

    The government on Wednesday commended the Kingdom’s security forces for thwarting the attempted “coup plot” by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy through his announced return to Cambodia on November 9. The comments came as Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue

  • Rainsy blocked from boarding flight to Jakarta

    Sam Rainsy was on Wednesday refused entry to a flight from Malaysia to Indonesia, media reported late on Wednesday. The "acting president" of the Cambodia National Rescue Party's announced return to the Kingdom on Independence Day on Saturday failed to occur. Rainsy arrived in Kuala

  • Tour guides question animal release ban in Angkor moat

    The Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association (Katga) called on the Apsara National Authority to reconsider its decision banning all animals from being released into the moat surrounding the Angkor Wat temple after the authority prohibited the action for the sake of visitors’ safety. An Apsara

  • Kingdom to import 200MW from Lao hydropower plant

    Cambodia plans to import 200MW of electricity from Laos’ Don Sahong hydropower plant early next year to curb power shortages this coming dry season, with the transmission line network scheduled for completion later this year, Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Victor Jona said. Jona,