Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen on Friday met with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace, where he lauded last year’s national election as “free, just and non-violent” and a reflection of the will of Cambodian people.
Last year, Mr Ericksen led a delegation of US officials to observe the national election on July 29.
Eang Sophalleth, assistant of Mr Hun Sen, on Friday said Mr Ericksen congratulated the government for last year’s peaceful election.
Mr Sophalleth said Mr Ericksen also noted Cambodia’s rapid development under the CPP-led government.
“Mr Ericksen congratulated the CPP for receiving its victory and lauded the government under the leadership of Samdech Hun Sen that garnered peace and development,” Mr Sophalleth said.
Mr Hun Sen’s Facebook page last week said Mr Erickson’s visit to Cambodia is intended to build a better relationship with the US.
“It is to expand the betterment of the relationship and cooperation between Cambodia and the US,” it said. “Samdech Hun Sen expresses gratitude and welcomes Mr Ericksen for his purpose in strengthening relations.”
The relationship between the two nations has been souring recently due to issues regarding democracy and human rights in the Kingdom.
The Generalised System of Preferences with the US is in jeopardy after the CPP-led government swept all 125 National Assembly seats last year without the participation of the now-dissolved CNRP.
Last year, the government suspended its search for missing US servicemen who fought in the Vietnam War in response to visa sanctions levelled against senior government officials by the US.
However, the government later reversed its position and agreed to resume searching for missing American soldiers.
During the meeting with Mr Hun Sen, Mr Ericksen thanked the government for continuing its search for missing American prisoners of war and MIAs.
Mr Hun Sen’s Facebook page said the government will continue to cooperate with the US in locating the remains of the missing soldiers.
“Furthermore, Samdech Techo has clarified that Cambodia is happy to cooperate with the US in order to find the remains of Americans missing during the Vietnam War,” it said. “Mr Ericksen […] expressed gratitude to Samdech Prime Minister and the government for cooperating and participating in this important humanitarian affair.”
Kin Phea, director-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, yesterday said he agreed with what Mr Erickson said about last year’s election.
“He came here to see the actual situation in Cambodia, not just from reading a report,” Mr Phea said. “We see that other US politicians never come to visit Cambodia. They just wait on what NGOs, or agents, report then make conclusions based on their own political agenda.”
Reached for comment on Mr Ericksen’s visit, the US embassy in Phnom Penh replied: “Doug Erickson is a local elected official in Washington state and a private US citizen. We do not have any comments on his itinerary and activities in Cambodia.”