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DPM Prak Sokhonn Reaffirms Royal Govt’s Commitment to Inclusive Political Process and Adherence to Constitution

WASHINGTON: The Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn, held a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on 13 May 2022, on the sideline of the ASEAN-US Special Summit. The meeting aimed to promote Cambodia-US relations and cooperation on regional and international issues of common interest.

According to a statement released by the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both the DPM and the US Secretary of State noted with satisfaction, the good cooperation between Cambodia and the United States in many areas, such as economic exchange, mine clearance, peacekeeping, cultural heritage protection, repatriation, and people-to-people exchange.

The two sides also discussed issues related to human rights and democracy. US Department of State Spokesperson, Ned Price, stated that Secretary Blinken expressed concerns about the restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia, urging the Kingdom to drop politically-motivated charges and allow opposition politicians to participate freely in upcoming elections.

In response, DPM Prak Sokhonn reaffirmed the Cambodian government’s full commitment to an inclusive political process and freedom of expression. He highlighted the multi-party elections held regularly since the early 1990s, which have been assessed as free and fair by local and international observers, along with the existence of hundreds of media establishments and wide social media penetration in Cambodia, the operation of trade unions for workers’ rights protection and thousands of NGOs and civil societies to promote people’s rights and welfare.

On the matter of international cooperation, Secretary Blinken thanked Cambodia for contributing to the successful convening of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, and for supporting the elevation of ASEAN-US relations to the level of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which is the highest-level partnership possible under the ASEAN framework.

The two sides exchanged views on the ongoing Myanmar crisis, and Secretary Blinken urged DPM Prak Sokhonn, in his role as the ASEAN Special Envoy, to continue pushing for the full implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC), particularly on three urgent priorities: the cessation of violence, delivery of humanitarian assistance, and engendering an inclusive political dialogue among all parties concerned.

Regarding the issue of the Ream Navel Base, Spokesperson Ned Price stated that Secretary Blinken further reiterated US concerns about how the People’s Republic of China’s construction of military facilities at the navel base could negatively affect regional security. DPM Prak Sokhonn responded to these concerns by, in turn, reiterating Cambodia’s firm adherence to the Cambodian Constitution, which does not permit foreign military base or presence on Cambodian soil. The DPM underlined that the renovation of the base serves solely to strengthen Cambodian navel capacities to protect its maritime integrity and combat crimes.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry’s press release concludes that the meeting between the two leaders ended with a shared resolve to work closely together to further promote relations of friendship and fruitful cooperation between Cambodia and the US in all areas.

The ASEAN-US Special Summit was held from 12-13 May in Washington D.C., America. Prime Minister Hun Sen co-chaired the summit, as the 2022 ASEAN Chair, along with US President Joe Biden. While Prime Minister Hun Sen was in Washington, he also met with around 2,000 Cambodians living in the US and Canada.

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