C AMBODIA remains a priority for United States aid money despite expected funding
cuts of about 40 per cent in Asia and Latin America, according to a visiting
Carol Lancaster, deputy administrator of the US Agency
for International Development (USAID), would not say whether aid to Cambodia
would be reduced.
But she dismissed any suggestion of large-scale
"All I can say is that Cambodia has to be one of the more
important countries to us in this region.
"While I can't say whether
there will be a cut or what amount of cut there will be, I think you can be
assured that we will remain engaged in Cambodia," Lancaster said Sept 18, at the
end of the four-day visit to Cambodia.
Despite expectations of cuts of up
to 40 per cent to USAID's Asia and Latin American funding, "it doesn't mean that
any single program will be cut by 40 per cent."
USAID - facing bids in
Washington to cuts its funding on the grounds the money would be better used to
help balance the federal budget - is giving $41 million to Cambodian projects
Lancaster said she had formed a more positive impression of
Cambodia on her trip than she had expected.
"I've found an active,
vibrant economy, clearly with many, many problems and obstacles to
"I've also found an increasingly strong, it seems to me,
democratic government, again not without stumbles and
Questioned about democracy in Cambodia, she said: "I don't
think that any of us is in a position to prescribe in detail the exact make-up
of the government or every single step that it must take day by day to reach a
fully democratic condition."
Lancaster said she met with First Prime
Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and got the impression that he wanted
Cambodia to make progress every day.
"I think we want to be supportive,
we want to monitor what's happening, we want to be involved...I think as long as
the progress is being made we ought to celebrate that progress."
why Cambodia was a priority for US government funds, she said the Kingdom sat in
a very important region of the world. Also, the US' past role here meant it
should respond to the needs of Cambodia now.