I have read with disappointment the article under the title Foreign Ministry blames Manila published in the Phnom Penh Post on July 28, in which the reporter has invented the above-mentioned claim that is inconsistent with my briefing at the airport upon the arrival of the Cambodian delegation from the 49th AMM and related meetings on July 27.
For the sake of the veracity, I wish to affirm that in my response to a question from a reporter about the accusation that “Cambodia has blocked the reference to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s July 12 award in the Joint Communique of the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting”, I have made it clear that:
1. It is true that the South China Sea issue has been raised a lot in the meetings and other discussions on regional and international issues.
2. However, every country does not have the same perspectives. Countries directly concerned like China and the Philippines have the differences since the Philippines filed its case against China in the PCA and China refused to participate in the process since the beginning.
3. For Cambodia’s part, we had a clear position since the beginning: Cambodia upholds policy of neutrality; Cambodia is not the claimant state in the South China Sea; In this regard, Cambodia takes no side in the dispute; and this is the dispute between the Philippines and China. We should not take ASEAN as a whole and the non-claimant states in particular, to get involved in this conflict.
4. Regional tension has already heated up, we should avoid further escalation of the tension.
5. However, Cambodia’s solidarity with ASEAN is still firm in supporting ASEAN’s main principles, particularly, the full respect of legal and diplomatic process and international law. The second paragraph of the Joint Communique of the 49th AMM clearly emphasised this matter.
6. For the wording relating to the arbitration, secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines agreed to remove it from the Joint Communique because he recognised that the dispute is between the Philippines and China and would not request ASEAN to support him in this matter.
Therefore, I wish to categorically reject the misinterpretation by your newspaper of my explanation as “the Foreign Ministry blames Manila” that can lead to the misunderstanding of Cambodia’s good will and efforts in maintaining the relations of friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and the Philippines.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Send letters to: [email protected]. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by the Phnom Penh Post.