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

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple