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PM flies to Australia for summit

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Hun Sen waves as he departs Phnom Penh. KT/Ven Rathavong

Prime Minister Hun Sen left Cambodia yesterday to attend the Asean-Australia Special Summit which will take place this weekend in Sydney.

Minister Attached to the Prime Minister Sry Thamrong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the summit would focus on strengthening cooperation on the economy, investment, trade, human resources building, infrastructure construction and the fight against terrorism.

He added the premier would arrive in Sydney this morning, and in the afternoon would lead a delegation to hold bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as well as meet with Jeremy Johnson, president of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry..

“After that he will meet with Cambodian communities and students who are studying in Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Thamrong said, adding that thousands want to meet the premier.

“The problem is finding a room to meet them,” he added, saying that because so many people wanted to meet the Prime Minister it was difficult to find a suitable room.

Mr Hun Sen will also have a working breakfast with his Lao and Vietnamese counterparts on Saturday and will attend the opening ceremony of the summit in the afternoon.

Mr Thamrong confirmed that the premier would arrive back in Phnom Penh Sunday.

According to a joint statement issued by seven Cambodian associations based in Australia and New Zealand, Cambodians are delighted with the news that the premier will meet with them.

“We would like to strongly pronounce our patronage and welcome the upcoming presence of Samdech Hun Sen,” it said.

However, not all are awaiting the Prime Minister’s arrival with open arms.

Bou Rachana, wife of slain political analyst Kem Ley, who in 2016 was shot and killed at a coffee shop in Phnom Penh, called on people to join her in protesting against Mr Hun Sen when he attends the summit on Saturday.

“I would like to invite Cambodian brothers and sisters living in Sydney to join me in protest on Friday and Saturday,” Ms Rachana said on her Facebook page.

The premier mocked Cambodians living in Australia who burned his effigies by challenging them to burn images of dragons at Buddhist pagodas because he was born in the Year of the Dragon.

Kim Vanchheng, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee, issued a statement yesterday, condemning the protest against Mr Hun Sen and burning of his effigies.

He said he heard that some Khmer Krom would be joining the protest and called them cowards, believing they had been incited by the opposition and its former leader Sam Rainsy.

Mr Vanchheng noted that gathering in opposition to Mr Hun Sen and burning his effigy only aimed to serve the interest of a foreign country.

He appealed to all Khmer Krom and Cambodians living in Australia to stop their planned protest.

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