Cambodia and South Korea have agreed to elevate their bilateral relations to a “strategic partnership” and will strengthen exchanges and cooperation in several areas. 

The agreement was made during a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Manet and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on May 16, during Manet’s May 15-18 visit to South Korea.

Following the meeting, the two sides issued a joint statement. 

“With full confidence in the future of the bilateral partnership, both sides have agreed to elevate bilateral relations between Cambodia and South Korea to a strategic partnership,” it said.

The Cambodian side also welcomed the South Korean Navy’s intention to conduct its first port call in the Kingdom this year. Both sides expressed their hopes that the visit would provide an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the navies of the two countries.

“The Korean side expressed its willingness to continue working closely with their Cambodian counterparts to strengthen Cambodia’s peacekeeping capabilities and provide assistance to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, including training, technical support and equipment,” added the statement.

Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation among relevant authorities to achieve a more comprehensive and coordinated response to the growing threat of transnational crimes, including drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, cybercrimes and scam operations.

They also agreed to strengthen cooperation on maritime safety and security to promote peace and stability in the region.

In an effort to promote bilateral investment, the two countries agreed to establish a regular consultation channel between the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and the South Korean embassy to Cambodia to create a more favourable investment environment for Korean businesses. 

“Both sides expressed satisfaction with the robust financial cooperation between the two countries including Korean investment in 15 financial institutions in Cambodia,” said the statement.

Cambodia looks forward to continued support from South Korea, including an increase in job opportunities for Cambodian workers, while the Korean side expressed gratitude for the valuable contributions of the Kingdom’s workers to its economy.

“Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the protection of each other’s nationals in their respective countries according to their applicable laws. 

“Both sides encouraged the early conclusion of the Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between the two countries and the effective implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on mutual cooperation between the justice ministries of the two countries, signed in December 2018,” it noted. 

The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of international peace and security, free trade, the rule of law, democracy, human rights and freedom of navigation and overflight.

The two sides called on North Korea to abide by all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and stressed the importance of peaceful dialogue in order to realise lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. 

“To this end, the Cambodian side welcomed South Korea’s audacious initiative, which aims to achieve a denuclearised, peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula that contributes to peace, stability, and prosperity in the region,” according to the statement. 

Manet invited Yoon to pay a state visit to Cambodia at a mutually convenient time.

During a May 16 Cambodia-South Korea business forum, Manet presided over the signing of six documents between the two countries, including the Protocol Amending the Framework Arrangement concerning Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for the years 2022 through 2026, an MoU on Investment Cooperation, and an MoU on Reinforced Intellectual Property Cooperation.

The other documents included a Letter of Intent to Strengthen Cooperation on Narcotics Control, an MoU on the Skilled and Professional Talent Development Programme, and a Loan Agreement for the Rural Roads Improvement Project 4.