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PM, Suu Kyi in agreement to strengthen bilateral ties

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Prime Minister Hun Sen walks with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. AFP

PM, Suu Kyi in agreement to strengthen bilateral ties

AUNG San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counsellor and de-facto head of state, and Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed on Tuesday to strengthen relations between the two nations.

Eang Sophallet, Hun Sen’s personal assistant, told reporters after the meeting at the Peace Palace that the two leaders had agreed to expand economic and educational cooperation as well as cultural and religious ties.

Suu Kyi, who is also Myanmar’s foreign minister, landed in Phnom Penh on Monday to begin a three-day visit. She is due to leave on Wednesday.

Sophallet said the prime minister had welcomed what Suu Kyi had raised with regard to cooperation between the two countries.

This was the first time she had made an official visit to Cambodia to meet Hun Sen, Sophallet added.

The prime minister pointed out that 2020 marks the 65th anniversary of relations between Cambodia and Myanmar, and the two nations should organise events to celebrate the milestone.

This would boost the tourism sectors of the countries, especially in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province and Myanmar’s Bagan province, both of which have world famous temple complexes.

Sophallet added that Hun Sen also thanked the Myanmar government for allowing Cambodia to build a Buddhist temple in their country, with 94 monks already having completed their studies there.

Another four were still undergoing training.

Hun Sen requested that the Myanmar government do all it could to implement a previously signed agreement by the countries on education.

The prime minister offered 10 scholarships for Myanmar students to study in Cambodia for the 2019-20 academic year.

“Hun Sen also asked for an exchange programme between Cambodian and Myanmar students, one supported by the governments of the two countries.

“[We will] prepare to send students to study in Myanmar and they will send students to study in Cambodia, with the support of the two governments,” Sophallet said.

Hun Sen also requested Suu Kyi to review the issue of overlapping taxation between the two nations as part of Asean.

That apart, the prime minister focused on other sectors in which the two countries had the potential to grow, especially in increasing bilateral trade from the current $10 million.

Analyst Meas Nee said Suu Kyi’s trip represented a protocol visit. The two leaders could not raise the issue of democracy and human rights in their meeting as both countries were facing criticism from the international community.

“What the two parties would have focused on was the strengthening of economic and trade relations.

“If we look at such relations between Myanmar and Cambodia, they are countries in a similar situation. This meeting was mostly about deepening diplomatic ties,” he said.

Besides Prime Minister Hun Sen, Suu Kyi also met the President of the Senate Say Chhum and the President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin on Tuesday.

She is due to conclude her trip to Cambodia with a visit to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province.

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