On March 13 the Prime Minister spoke at the inauguration ceremony for National Highway 1 (from Phnom Penh to Bavet on the Vietnamese border). The ribbon-cutting took place near Kdey Takoy, and here he restated his opposition to repaying the $500 million loan the US gave Lon Nol’s regime.
“At that time they took the axe to beat us, and caused the axe to be bloodied. And now they demand that we pay for the axe,” he said. The debt was originally a $274 million loan for food supplies for the Lon Nol regime in the 1960s, but was used to buy weapons to suppress his countrymen and fill his and his cronies’ pockets.
Many non-Cambodians, e.g. Reuters correspondent James Pringle, and reporter Elizabeth Becker, share the Prime Minister’s sentiment. They have expounded on the fact that besides giving Lon Nol money, the US tried to bomb the Kingdom “to kingdom come” with one-half million tons of bombs.
This effort to win the Vietnam War resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, widespread destruction of Cambodia’s infrastructure, etc.
In 2017 Hun Sen asked the US President Trump to turn Cambodia’s war era debt into developmental aid – apparently to no avail.