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Three US Parliamentarians Come to Cambodia to Talk about Debt and Commercial Ties

By: The Mirror Posted: January-08-2010 in
The Mirror

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

“Three US congressmen plan to visit Cambodia for three days, according to a Voice of America (VOA) broadcast in the morning of 5 January 2010, based on information from the Khmer ambassador to the United States, Mr. Hem Heng.

“But officials of the US Embassy in Phnom Penh told Khmer Machas Srok in the evening of 5 January 2010 that the three US congressmen will arrive in Cambodian in the evening of 5 January 2010, landing in Siem Reap first, before coming to Phnom Penh.

“The visit to Cambodia is to discuss about the debt of more than US$300 million that Cambodia owes, and about commercial ties between the two countries.

“Mr. Hem Heng added, ‘The intention of the visit to Cambodia is first, they want to discuss with Khmer leaders to solve the debt owed by Cambodia to the United States since the Lon Nol regime; second, the delegation wants to discuss about clearing unexploded bombs that America dropped during the war in the 1970ies; and third, the delegation aims to promote and to encourage trade between Cambodia and the United States.’

“The visit to Cambodia is led by Democrat, Mr. Eni Faleomavaega, who represents the territory of American Samoa and is chairperson of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment; Mr. Mike Honda, Democrat of California; and, Mr. Joseph Cao, Republican of Virginia [born in Vietnam and immigrated to the USA as a child].

“The three delegates will meet with high-ranking officials of Cambodia, including Prime Minister Hun Sen. However, two officials who work for two of the US congressmen who plan to visit Cambodia asked not to comment to VOA about the visit due to safety concerns.

“When the visit will have been finished in three days, the three US delegates will hold a joint press conference about their visits to Cambodia, Laos, Japan, and Vietnam.

“Previously, Cambodia had asked the United States to cancel the debt of more than US$300 million that Cambodia owes since the Khmer Republic led by Field Marshal Lon Nol during the 1970ies, and recently Cambodia asked the USA not to charge taxes on products exported from Cambodia to the United States. But there is no response from the United States.

“Officials of the two countries used to say that the canceling of the debt depends on decisions by the parliaments of both countries.

“It should be noted that the deputy spokesperson of the US Department of State immediately released a statement condemning Cambodia for deporting Uighurs to the Chinese authorities, when China had granted aid and loans of about US$1.2 billion to Cambodia during a visit by the Chinese vice president.

“The statement of condemnation was issued on 21 December 2009, after the Khmer authorities deported the Uighurs back to China, following a request from the long-term communist government.

“The spokesperson of the US Department of State, Mr. Gordon Duguid, said in a statement on 19 December 2009 that the Cambodian government, following a Chinese request, forced 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China, in what is seen as a violation of international obligations by Cambodia. The United States is concerned about the wellbeing of those people who sought asylum and protection under international law. The United States is concerned also because the Cambodian government decided to deport those people without properly checking their refugee status, and without the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees participation.

“The United States strongly opposed the deportation of the asylum seekers by Cambodia without listening to the people’s reasons. This will affect the relations between Cambodia and the United States and the reputation of Cambodia on the international arena.

“As those people were already sent back to China, the US government asks China to conform to international standards, to ensure transparency according to the law, and to properly treat those people. The US government continues to call on all relevant parties to pay attention on the importance of the respect for human rights and of the obligations under international law.

“Anyway, officials of the Cambodian government immediately issued a statement to calm the US Department of State, saying that Cambodia will continue to maintain good relations with the United States. It is likely that this problem led the three US congressmen to pay a visit to Cambodia.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #573, 6.1.2010

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646 - Wednesday, 6.1.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror

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