Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US won’t forgive Lon Nol debt

US won’t forgive Lon Nol debt

US won’t forgive Lon Nol debt

We’ve made it clear a number of times ... how ... disappointed we were by cambodia’s decision.

The United States has no plans to forgive Cambodia’s decades-old debt, a senior US diplomat said Tuesday, after Cambodian officials renewed requests for the country’s Lon Nol-era debt to be erased from the books.

Speaking to reporters near the end of a brief visit to Cambodia on Tuesday, Scot Marciel, the US Ambassador for ASEAN affairs and the deputy assistant secretary of state for its East Asia and Pacific bureau, said his government’s stance on the issue had changed little, despite repeated requests.

“The US position is that Cambodia has recognised this debt. We think Cambodia should begin to make payments on this,” Marciel said.

“The Cambodian government has not been willing to do so. So it’s something we’ll continue to talk about.”

In meetings in Phnom Penh earlier Tuesday, Cambodian officials proposed that the US forgive 70 percent of the Kingdom’s debt from the Lon Nol era, estimated at more than US$300 million.

“The debt is from the Lon Nol regime and was used for buying weapons for war,” Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters earlier Tuesday.

“This is the reason why Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong requested cancellation, because the funds [were] not being used to develop the country.”

‘Concern’ over Uighurs
Marciel is the top US State Department official to visit Cambodia since the December deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China – a move that was a topic of concern in meetings.

“We’ve made it clear a number of times both publicly and privately, how concerned and disappointed we were by Cambodia’s decision,” Marciel said.

“We had urged the Cambodian government before they deported the people not to go that route because they had not gone through the [UN refugee agency’s vetting] process to determine whether they had a legitimate claim to asylum.

“So, yes, we’re very disappointed with that decision. We reiterated that today,” Marciel added.

Marciel said he met with government officials, as well as opposition groups and civil society during his brief stay here, part of a broader trip through the region.

He was to fly to Thailand on Tuesday evening for a similarly short visit to Cambodia’s neighbour. Marciel touched on the recent frosty relations between the two nations Tuesday.

“We are good friends with both Cambodia and Thailand,” Marciel said.

“Like most countries, we’re concerned about the tension between the two countries.

“What we have said is that we hope that both governments, both leaders, will do what they can to try to reduce tensions to begin with.”


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which