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UK Makes Highest-Level Visit to Cambodia in 68 Years

Phnom Penh: For the first time since 1953, a British Foreign Secretary has visited Cambodia. Mr. Dominic Raab arrived in Phnom Penh from Vietnam on Tuesday night, for the second leg of his three-nation Southeast Asian tour. He’s held talks with his Cambodian counterpart, Mr. Prak Sokkhon, as well as Environment Minister, Mr. Say Samal. He was due to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, but that had to be cancelled with the Prime Minister quarantining at home after having had indirect exposure to Covid-19 last week.

Mr. Raab tweeted on Tuesday night that he was here to make Britain a force for good in the Indo-Pacific region. He said he would be supporting Cambodia’s energy transition, expanding UK-ASEAN cooperation and boosting trade, which is not surprising, given that the UK is trying to sign as many free trade agreements as possible, in the wake of its exit from the European Union. The British Embassy in Phnom Penh also stressed that the visit would see discussions on the UK’s bid for “ASEAN Dialogue Partnership” status ahead of Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2022.

Mr. Raab first met with Environment Minister, Mr. Say Samal, who asked Mr. Raab to buy carbon credits from Cambodia to contribute to the conservation of forests and wildlife as well as contribute to economic development. The Environment Minister also requested British assistance when it comes to the management and protection of environmental resources. He says the UK’s Foreign Secretary has promised to send a fact-finding team to Cambodia to study the areas on which it can help.

From that meeting it was straight into another, with Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Mr. Prak Sokhonn. After their talks, Mr. Raab tweeted that he was “delighted to discuss our shared priorities such as trade, human rights & Myanmar. He added that the UK was “looking forward to working together more closely during Cambodia’s 2022 ASEAN chairmanship”.

Mr. Raab wrapped up his day in the country with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, before leaving for Singapore.

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