Phnom Penh, 3 June 2021: E-Arts Cambodia can confirm that a request from the United States to allow one of its defense attachés to visit the Ream Naval Base near Sihanoukville has been granted. Ministry of Defense spokesperson, Mr. Chhum Socheat told E-Arts that the Royal Government of Cambodia has authorized the visit, although a date has not yet been set.
The request was made by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman during her two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
Washington accuses Cambodia of allowing China to develop a Chinese naval base at the port, but the Defense Ministry has repeatedly said this is not the case. It says Cambodia turned to China to help fund the redevelopment of the base, but that the base will be available to anyone who wishes to use it. The base and port will remain under Cambodian control.
Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen also reiterated that any country in the world would be welcome to use the base, including the US, France, Canada, India, the UK, Japan and Australia – either to make port calls or participate in joint exercises with the Royal Cambodian Navy. The Prime Minister also added that Cambodia welcomes any aid from any country to build the base headquarters and develop the port.
The Royal Government of Cambodia says it firmly adheres to the country’s constitutional principles of independence and neutrality, which strictly forbid the presence of any foreign military base in the Kingdom.
The latest visit would not be the first to Ream Port by a representative of the United States. In January last year, US Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus Ferrara paid a “courtesy call” on the Royal Cambodian Navy’s Deputy Commander Vice Admiral, Ouk Seyha.