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Cambodia to Remain Neutral in US-China “Battle”

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Phnom Penh : Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Mr. Tea Banh, says Cambodia is in the middle of a “geopolitical battle between superpowers” and that the country will adhere to its policy of neutrality. He was speaking at Wednesday morning’s ceremony at the Win-Win Memorial in Phnom Penh, where the country’s first ever oil was deposited.

Addressing the assembled crowd, Mr. Tea Banh reiterated statements by Prime Minister Hun Sen in recent weeks, that Cambodia wishes to cooperate with all countries for mutual benefit. Mr. Thea Banh added that Cambodia is “looking for cooperation that benefits our motherland and our people.”

Cambodia has attracted plenty of attention from the United States this month, with several high-profile visits and courtesy-calls from officials. The most senior was last week, when Prime Minister Hun Sen met with U.S Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. She repeated ongoing concerns in Washington that Cambodia was allowing China to develop its own military base on the Gulf of Thailand at Ream Port. She made a request that the U.S be allowed to visit the base on a fact-finding mission, a request that has been granted by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodia has been at pains to reinforce its message that the Ream Naval Base is only being redeveloped with Chinese funds and that when it is completed it will be open to any country which wishes to use it or conduct joint military exercises with the Royal Cambodian Navy.

The country has welcomed Washington’s recent attention, saying last week that it looks forward to deepening bilateral ties with the United States, while also reaffirming its commitments with China, saying on Tuesday that its friendship with the People’s Republic is “ironclad”.


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