An Indian diplomat has suggested that Senate president Hun Sen and the government of Cambodia see India as a “credible” partner, noting that Cambodia is an old partner and friend to India in the matter of geopolitical rivalries in the region.

During a May 20 meeting with Hun Sen, Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Uttam Khobragade recollected the long history of relations between the two countries. In the past, she said despite the Covid-19 pandemic, India and Cambodia have been able to work together.

“Khobragade also requested that I and the Royal Government of Cambodia see India as a ‘credible’ partner of Cambodia,” said a social media post by the Senate president.

“She also expressed her pleasure that Cambodia is India’s partner and friend, and is balanced in terms of geopolitical rivalries in the region,” it added.

Khobragade described direct flights between India to Cambodia, which are set to commence in July of this year, as “a dream come true”. She said the flights will help bring relations between the two nations closer, in particular through people-to-people exchanges, as well as boosting mutual trust, trade and economic ties, the post continued.

She hoped that after the Indian elections are completed, India’s new government will continue to have excellent relations with Cambodia and that political, economic and security ties will be further enhanced. 

The ambassador also shared her hope that the new prime minister of India and Prime Minister Hun Manet will have the opportunity to meet with each other this year.

She also requested that Hun Sen visit India in his role as Senate president, saying that India would ‘warmly’ welcome his presence in the future.

Khobragade thanked Cambodia for seeing India as a source of economic development, while Hun Sen said India’s development was widely viewed as a pillar that had contributed to preventing regional crises in Asia.

Hun Sen supported India and noted that with its large population, it was growing economically. He suggested that India should become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The senate president recalled that in 1979, after Cambodia was liberated from the Khmer Rouge regime, India was the only “democratic” country in the world that recognised Cambodia while other Western and European countries imposed political, economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Kingdom.

He said he was following the election process in India, a democratic country, closely and noted that the progress of the election was “smooth, signalling the great success of one of the largest democratic countries in the world.”

Yang Poeu, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), said diplomatic relations between Cambodia and India are historically significant. He added that during the Cold War, while Cambodia suffered from sanctions by Western democratic countries, India connected with Cambodia as a gateway to the West. 

He recalled that India was a large country that supported Cambodia and was a good friend during the Cold War, noting that today, India is an influential country in South Asia and one of the most influential countries in the greater world.

“We see now that China is emerging as a geopolitical rival to the US. I think according to Article 53 of the Cambodian Constitution, which adheres to a colourful policy of non-alignment and the promotion of sovereignty and independence, Cambodia applauds the cooperation of all the great powers and other countries,” Poeu told The Post on May 21. 

He supported the strengthening of further cooperation between Cambodia and India, to maintain the balance of geopolitical rivalries, both global and regional.