US Department of State assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink is paying an official visit to Cambodia to underscore the US’ strong and enduring commitment to the Kingdom, while strengthening relations between the two countries.

A February 23 state department press release said that while in Phnom Penh, Kritenbrink will meet with several Cambodian officials to advance the “shared vision of a free, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific”.

“The assistant secretary will also underscore US commitment to the Cambodian people and their aspirations for a democratic and independent country where all voices are heard and respected, and Cambodia’s sovereignty is protected,” it continued.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Chum Sounry said on February 25 that the visit is scheduled for February 26-27, and will encompass many discussions on means to heighten bilateral and multilateral relationships. 

He believed that both sides would also discuss regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

“I have noted increased cooperation between Cambodia and the US in terms of not just diplomacy, but the economy and trade, cultural and artefact conservation, health, education, the environment, mine clearance and food security,” he said. 

“This trip will be an opportunity for the two countries to further expand their relationship,” he added.

The state department announced that in addition to Cambodia, Kritenbrink will travel to Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei on his February 23-March 4 trip, in order to underscore the US’ strong and enduring commitment to its allies and partners in Southeast Asia.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, was of the view that the visit is part of the US’s efforts to implement its Indo-Pacific Strategy, with the aim of receiving more support from the nations in the region.

“During the meetings, it is possible that the US may want to raise its own perceived ideas about democracy or human rights issues, as this has been a part of its relationship with Cambodia for a long time. The US side may also wish to discuss the Ream Naval Base,” he said.

He explained that Cambodia aspired to live in peaceful co-existence with its neighbours and with all other countries around the world. 

The Kingdom wanted to deepen its relationships and cooperation with other countries, including the US, based on principles of mutual respect, independence and non-interference in each other’s international affairs, said a recent foreign affairs ministry’s statement.

Earlier this month, US state department deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia Melissa Brown met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sok Chenda Sophea, during her visit to Cambodia.

During the February 14 meeting, the two sides reiterated their commitment to further expanding mutually beneficial cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, development aid and people-to-people connections.