Khmer Times/Khuon Narim and Ven Rathavong Friday, 12 May 2017 1047 views

Ranariddh off to North Korea

Prince Norodom Ranariddh has pledged to help ease rising tensions on the Korean peninsula when he visits the North in July.
 

The Funcinpec Party president said he would address the North’s growing nuclear ambitions with leader Kim Jong-un, if China’s efforts to resolve the situation are unsuccessful.
 

Prince Ranariddh said he and a group of party delegates hoped their visit would strengthen ties with the ruling Workers’ Party at a time when the North’s increasing missile tests have been fuelling fears of a possible military conflict.
 

“Let China mediate before we say anything,” Prince Ranariddh told reporters outside the Royal Palace.
 

“If China fails to make any progress, then I am a close friend of the North Korean leader and I will say something to make sure that nuclear war does not break out.”
 

The Funcinpec president said war on the Korean peninsula would spell disaster for the region and must be avoided at all costs.
 

Last month, the head of international affairs for the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea met Prince Ranariddh at his house in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district.
 

Ma Chol Su pledged to build on good relations with Cambodia and the royalist Funcinpec Party.
 

Warm relations between North Korea and Cambodia go back to the reign of Prince Ranariddh’s father King Sihanouk, who became good friends with its leader Kim Il-sung in 1965.
 

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan questioned the extent to which Prince Ranariddh could mitigate the prospect of nuclear war.
 

“Funcinpec is not the ruling party so it has no influence on the issue,” he said.
 

“But it is a good thing to strengthen relations between countries to maintain peace.”
 

Prince Ranariddh meanwhile rallied activists to go out canvassing and encourage royalists to vote for his party at the commune elections next month.
 

Hundreds of members of Funcinpec met yesterday at the Royal Palace for a peace ceremony. Speaking after the ceremony, Prince Ranariddh said he hopes to unify royalists who abandoned the party when he was ousted in 2006.
 

Prince Ranariddh returned to Funcinpec as president in 2015 but his deputy president Nhek Bun Chhay left one year later when relations between the pair turned sour.
 

Mr Bun Chhay created a new party – the Khmer National United Party – and has called on all royalists to join him.
 

“We need to unify royalists to resolve the nation’s problems,” Prince Ranariddh said, adding that his party represented true royalists.
 

Mam Chhoeun, a Funcinpec commune candidate in Kampong Thom’s Sra Yav commune, said he believed in the party because he loved the king.
 

“I want to protect the monarchy regime for next generation” he said.
 

Back in the 1970s North Korea built King Sihanouk a palace near Pyongyang, where he would spend several months of the year.
 

Funcinpec was formed when King Sihanouk was living there in exile.

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