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Cambodia, Singapore mend relations

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Lee Hsien Loong
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Reuters

Singapore Cambodian and Singaporean officials yesterday held a long scheduled closed-door meeting in order to strengthen ties and enhance relations.

The meeting came about a month after a spat between both countries  as a result of comments made by Premier Mr Lee Hsien Loong at a security summit in Singapore last month.

Background: Singaporean leader disrespects Cambodian massacre: Hun Sen

In a statement yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said a Singaporean delegation led by Peter Tan, deputy secretary-general for Asia and Asean affairs at the Singaporean Foreign Affairs Ministry, met with Tuot Panha, an undersecretary of state with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, at the ministry’s office in Phnom Penh.

Singaporean and Cambodian officials
Singaporean and Cambodian officials from each country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs meet yesterday to mend ties between the nations. KT/Siv Channa


“This first Cambodia-Singapore Political Consultations would promote relations and [strengthen] cooperation between both countries in bilateral and multilateral frameworks,” the statement, issued before the meeting, noted.

It said issues including evaluations on bilateral cooperation in “politics, security, national defence and the expansion of bilateral relations to a new level” was also discussed at the meeting.

According to the Foreign Ministry statement, the meeting was held in accordance with “the Memorandum of Understanding on the Cambodia-Singapore Political Consultations”, which was signed in 2017.

It said that Cambodia was the first country to recognise Singapore’s independence in 1965 and that relations between the two countries were formed by the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, based on “mutual respect, truth and better cooperation”.

“Relations have been further strengthened and expanded by the exchange of visits at all levels and the increase in trade volume,” it said.

Singaporean officials also met Eat Sophea, a secretary of state with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, after the meeting.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann yesterday said no details of the meeting can be disclosed yet.

“The ministry will issue a press release on the outcomes of the consultation,” Mr Sophann said. “You should have it tomorrow.”

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the meeting should ease tensions between Cambodia.

“I think we should also hold political consultation meetings with other countries, not just Singapore because we may have disagreements over strategic geopolitical interests,” Mr Phea said, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen could discuss the issue with Mr Lee during the upcoming Asean Summit in Bangkok. “I think on the sideline of the Asean Summit, Samdech Prime Minister might speak with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.” 

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