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BREAKING NEWS: Cambodian Defense Ministry Urges U.S to Stop Creating New Scenarios that bring negatives impacts the defense relationship between the two countries.

Phnom Penh : Cambodia's Defense Ministry has called the U.S. Embassy's reaction over its visit to the Ream Naval Base “an attempt to create new problems” and distorting the facts which have led to an unnecessary increase in tensions between the two countries. 

The Ministry of National Defense regards the reaction of the U.S. Embassy, posted on its Facebook page on Friday afternoon, as “striving to create new problems and distorting the facts which could further negatively impact the defense relationship between the two countries”. The Ministry of National Defense regards all measures taken by the Coordination Working Group as correct and professional.

The Ministry of National Defense has now called on the U.S. Embassy to cease creating new scenarios which bring about negativity. It is insisting that the U.S. respect Cambodia's sovereignty and rights to classified military information. 

The Ministry has expressed its deepest regret over Friday’s statement by the US Embassy in Cambodia, accusing Cambodian military officers of refusing “full access” to Ream Naval Base during the visit by the U.S. Defense Attaché on 11 June 2021. 

The statement said its Defence Attaché had decided to end his visit after not being granted this so-called “full access”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Mr. Tea Banh confirmed that the U.S. side alleges that Cambodian military officials did not allow U.S. military attachés to visit any naval bases, which has been described as “incorrect”.
He said that the development of Cambodia's Ream Port is not news to the United States but that Washington is still insisting that Cambodia has given the port exclusively to China. 

A Defense Ministry spokesman announced that during the visit to the Ream Naval Base, the Coordination Working Group endeavored to meet the requirements of the U.S. delegation, according to directive guidelines, including a meeting which lasted more than one hour, the visit to two newly-constructed buildings which serve as accommodation for workers, a tour of the naval pier and ships, visiting an Australian-supported naval workshop, a hospital, and Koh Preap to see the construction of the new Tactical Command Headquarters of the National Committee for Maritime Security. The entire visit started at 9:30 am on Friday and lasted approximately three hours.

Despite this, the Ministry says the U.S has now created a parallel scenario, demanding to visit other areas beyond the scope of the agreement. These demands were rejected as they violated Cambodia's sovereignty. 

While the U.S has requested that the visit be rescheduled, again with what it calls “full access” and at the “earliest opportunity”, it has not said what exactly “full access” means to what is a military base owned by another sovereign country. 

The Ministry of National Defense says future requests will be thoroughly considered on a “case by case basis” and that U.S officials need to note that any approved activities in the future must be regarded as visits, not inspections or searches.

The first request for a visit on Friday was made last week during a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Permission was granted by the Prime Minister to allay fears in Washington that Phnom Penh was allowing Beijing to build its own naval base on the Gulf of Thailand. 

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the base remains under Cambodia’s sovereign control and that China is merely funding the base’s redevelopment.

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