Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US defends military ties

US defends military ties

US defends military ties

{flv}ankor_sentinel_100719/ankor_sentinel{/flv}
Kampong Speu Province
A SENIOR United States diplomat yesterday defended his country’s support of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, amid accusations that the partnership was benefiting abusive military units.

William Burns, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, acknowledged concerns voiced with respect to military aid given to Cambodia, but emphasised that the partnership would lead to positive reforms.

“Our military relationship is about ... working toward effective defence reform, toward encouraging the kind of civil-military relationship that is essential to any healthy political system,” Burns told reporters yesterday after a ceremony marking the return of antiquities to Cambodia.

His remarks came less than a week after the US-sponsored “Angkor Sentinel” exercises, which involve roughly 1,000 military personnel from 26 countries, kicked off after Phnom Penh ceremonies.

On July 8, US-based Human Rights Watch blasted the exercises, saying participating Cambodian military units were complicit in rights abuses such as illegal land seizures, arbitrary detentions, torture and political violence.

“The US should not be training corrupt and abusive military units for global peacekeeping,” Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy director for Asia, was quoted as saying.

Other critics have since weighed in, saying the US tacitly condoned such abuses by holding the exercises in Cambodia.

Burns said yesterday, however, that all participants in the exercises were subjected to rigorous vetting. “We’re very mindful of the concerns that were expressed, but we take those into account as we conduct our military-to-military relationships,” he said.

Nonetheless, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua said yesterday that the criticisms had merit.

“There are very clear cases of the involvement of the military in land-grabbing,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the