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PM departs on European tour

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Former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (right) and Hun Sen attend a press conference in 2010 during the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels. JOHN THYS/afp

PM departs on European tour

Prime Minister Hun Sen has left for his European tour, which will include attending an Asia-Europe meeting organised by the EU.

Departing at 12:20am, he will lead a delegation at the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, Belgium.

Prior to his departure, Hun Sen announced on his Facebook page that, after the Asem, he would pay an official visit to Turkey from Saturday to Monday. And on Monday evening, he would head to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the World Investment Forum.

“Looking at the schedule of this overseas trip … it is very busy. However, I am happy with this mission because it serves our national interests,” he said, noting that he may face some protests from opposition supporters.

Hun Sen is slated to attend the biennial Asem at the invitation of European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, a Foreign Affairs Ministry statement issued on Sunday said.

The prime minister will deliver remarks at a plenary session under the sub-theme, Reinforcing the multilateral system: Advancing the Asem partnership on global issues, the ministry said.

On the sidelines of the Asem summit, he will hold separate bilateral meetings with the prime ministers from Russia, Hungary, Norway and the Czech Republic – Dmitry Medvedev, Viktor Orban, Erna Solberg and Andrej Babis, respectively.

Leaders of 51 European and Asian countries are expected to be present at the biennial meeting to discuss a wide range of global issues such as trade and investment, climate change and security challenges.

As to meeting the members of the Cambodian diaspora in the continent, Hun Sen said, “it is a task which he cannot abandon. They are waiting for me there.”

Meanwhile, supporters of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) intend to host a protest against the prime minister and his entourage as they had previously done in the US and Japan, says a letter from one of the party’s former lawmakers.

Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, said on Tuesday that Hun Sen is happy to be accompanied by his supporters on this trip. But he argued that the prime minister’s image will remain the same as what his detractors in the US thought of him.

“[The image] is not good for Cambodia. It shows the world that the Kingdom has an internal crisis. It means the country [is divided by a rift],” he said.

On this week-long trip, Hun Sen will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, along with senior government officials and business leaders from the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce.

He is scheduled to depart Switzerland next Wednesday and return to Cambodia the following day.

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