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US/ASEAN envoy sees ‘challenges’ in Kingdom

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Hun Sen during a January meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Hun Sen during a January meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

US/ASEAN envoy sees ‘challenges’ in Kingdom

US ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian has added her voice to the chorus of US diplomats pressing for democratic reform and greater respect for human rights in Cambodia.

Speaking to journalists yesterday during a debriefing of last week's US-ASEAN summit in California, Ambassador Hachigian said that while progress had been made, “significant challenges remain” when it comes to human rights in Cambodia.

“We urge the Cambodian government to create a more just society and improve its commitment to democracy and human rights,” she said, when prompted to comment on the topic.

The ambassador’s sentiments echo those of US Secretary of State John Kerry who met with Prime Minister Hun Sen last month in Phnom Penh. Kerry said at the time he’d had a “candid and constructive” meeting with the premier, discussing “sensitive issues such as human rights”.

Much of yesterday’s discussion with Hachigian centred on the rising tensions in the South China Sea, with the ambassador saying the US and ASEAN “share a commitment to peace, stability and security in the region”.

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