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PM Says There Was No Discussion on Seng Theary with US President

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen has expressed outrage that some analysts have suggested that US President Joe Biden came to punish Cambodia on his visit to attend the ASEAN Summit, saying that the truth is very different.

On 13 November, Prime Minister Hun Sen held a face-to-face meeting with President Biden while attending the ASEAN Summit. The Prime Minister and US President discussed a number of issues related to democracy and the deportation of Cambodians.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that there was no negotiation on the release of a female prisoner, whom the Prime Minister referred to as an Apsara with a bald head, and is likely referring to currently imprisoned Cambodian-American human-rights activist, Seng Theary.

The Prime Minister said he wonders why some people have suggested that the US President came to Cambodia to put pressure on the government regarding the country’s human rights situation.

"Let those who comment on the US President's remarks respect the ethics of the leaders’ discussion," he said. "I have, in my pocket, a whole diary of conversations [between the US President and I], but I'm not sure what happened for people to listen to [these conversations and interpret them] as something else."

Several analysts have also purported that the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, came to talk to about the human rights in Cambodia, while meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

To this the Prime Minister added, "I do not know where they got this statement from. I do not think it would be excessive if we asked to verify the record on both sides."

Some media outlets have published and quoted analysts who believe that the meetings between the Prime Minister Hun Sen, the President of the United States and the UN Secretary-General, saw these foreign leaders questioning the Cambodian Prime Minister over the human rights situation in the country, and pressuring him to release certain prisoners.

However, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia on 12 November 2022 on the Prime Minister’s meeting with President Biden, the two leaders did not discuss such issues and only spoke of continuing cooperation activities in law enforcement to combat transnational crime, and enhance cooperation in the fields of culture, demining, peacekeeping and environmental action.

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