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Cambodia Addresses Misrepresentations in The Diplomat Article

Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, through its spokesperson, Chum Sounry, has issued a formal response to an article published in The Diplomat on February 16, 2024. The piece, titled "U.S. Sanctions and Rallying around the Flag in North Korea and Cambodia," has been criticized by the Cambodian government for harboring "wild allegations" and misinterpretations about the country.

In a letter to The Diplomat’s Southeast Asia Editor, Sebastian Strangio, dated February 17, Chum Sounry expressed his discontent, stating that the article undermines the integrity of Cambodia. "I read with dismay...the wild allegations tarnishing the prestige of my country, the Kingdom of Cambodia," he wrote, emphasizing the need to correct the narrative for the sake of Cambodia's international image.

Chum Sounry, who has been pivotal in fostering Cambodia-U.S. relations, acknowledged the nuanced perspectives on U.S. sanctions, including those of Professor Steve Hanke. He highlighted the increasing support from the U.S. across various sectors, including diplomacy, economy, culture, and health, showcasing a commitment to overcome differences and enhance bilateral cooperation.

However, Sounry took issue with the article’s methodology, particularly the comparison between Cambodia and North Korea, labeling it as flawed and questioning its analytical framework. He addressed the inaccuracies regarding Cambodia's governance, specifically the claim of hereditary power transfer, clarifying that Cambodia operates as a constitutional monarchy with democratic processes in place. The spokesperson pointed to the regular conduct of free and fair general elections since 1993, with the 2023 election being notably competitive, involving 18 political parties.

The peaceful and democratic transition of power in the 2023 general election, which saw the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) endorsing Hun Manet as the future Prime Minister, was highlighted as a significant milestone. This election, according to Sounry, demonstrated the Cambodian populace's trust in Hun Manet's leadership towards continued peace, stability, and socio-economic development.

Chum Sounry concluded his letter by challenging the author’s political judgment, attributing the contentious allegations to a misunderstanding of Cambodia’s political landscape and asserting the country's commitment to democratic principles and international cooperation.

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