US defence secretary Lloyd Austin will pay a three-day visit to Cambodia from November 21-23 for talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), according to US ambassador W Patrick Murphy.
Austin will be in Siem Reap province for the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), hosted by Cambodia as ASEAN chair.
“At the invitation of Cambodia’s Ministry of National Defence, [Austin] will … attend the ADMM and other informal meetings,” Murphy said as he met with defence minister Tea Banh on November 14 at the ministry, where he also commended the Kingdom for its smooth hosting of the recent 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and related meetings.
The White House confirmed Austin’s attendance in a separate statement.
“[Austin] will travel to Cambodia for the ADMM+, where he will coordinate with ASEAN partners on defence matters, continuing the US’ unbroken record of attending every ADMM+ meeting at the highest level,” it said.
Tea Banh said a coordination team was making preparations to receive the top defence officials and other participants.
He noted that the ADMM will bring together not only the ASEAN defence ministers but also their US, Russian and Indian counterparts.
“I also spoke highly of the past cooperation between the US and Cambodia, and the fruitful and close relationship between us, which is in the best interests of the people and the armies of the two countries,” he said.
The ministry is confident that the ADMM and related meetings will enhance military cooperation in the region and the world, he added.
In June, Austin also met with ASEAN defence ministers to discuss ways to deepen cooperation and address regional security challenges of common concern. He said the ADMM+ has played a vital role in building stronger multilateral defence cooperation.
Austin also discussed opportunities for increased maritime security cooperation with the US’ Southeast Asian partners, noting that effective maritime security is essential to the prosperity and livelihoods of the people of the region.