Despite recent diplomatic setbacks with the United States, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said he was committed to attending the Asean-US Summit in the United States early next year to hold talks with President Donald Trump.
Mr Hun Sen said he exchanged letters with Mr Trump to mend diplomatic relations between the two nations and rejected critics claiming Mr Trump’s letter was a form of pressure for the government to respect human rights and democracy.
“After Trump sent a letter to me, someone said Trump is pressuring me. Oh, my god,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Cambodia was the first nation to support the Asean-US Summit in the US.”
“I have already prepared golfing equipment because Trump also likes to play golf. Like it or not, this time I will go to play golf with him,” he added. “I have been to America many times, but I have never played golf there. I will meet him. There is no pressure.”
Mr Trump in his letter said the US respects the Kingdom’s sovereignty and it does not want regime change in the Kingdom.
The government earlier this week slammed the US Treasury Department for imposing sanctions against high-ranking government official Kun Kim and well-known tycoon Try Pheap over corruption allegations.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Tuesday said the move undermined efforts to mend ties between the two nations.
US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg yesterday said the US imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions against Mr Pheap, Mr Kim and members of their families over the allegations.
“As a result, their assets within US jurisdictions are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them and their entities,” Ms Zeeberg said. “Corruption is a global issue, and it is in every nation’s interest to address the causes and sources of corruption.”
“These actions were taken to protect the integrity of the US financial system and ensure corrupt actors, their families and companies do not benefit from our system and cannot travel to or spend their ill-gotten gains in the United States,” she added.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said despite strained relations between the two countries, Mr Hun Sen is committed to cultivating ties with the US.
“His commitment to attend the summit in the US is a reflection of his will and commitment to build trust and confidence between the two nations,” Mr Phea said.