National Assembly president Heng Samrin yesterday assured United States Ambassador Patrick Murphy that the government is willing to address issues that both countries don’t see eye to eye on, in order to boost bilateral ties.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting yesterday, Mr Samrin’s cabinet chief Keo Piseth quoted Mr Samrin as saying that Mr Murphy’s diplomatic mission is vital to the ongoing maintenance and promotion of friendship and cooperation in all fields between the two countries.
He said Mr Samrin told Mr Murphy that under a multi-party democracy, the government will strive to do what is appropriate to ensure peace, stability and development in the Kingdom.
“Mr Samrin congratulated the progress on efforts to further strengthen and deepen cooperation between the two governments, which bring great benefits to both nations,” Mr Piseth said. “He also hopes that the ambassador will continue to collaborate with all public institutions across the Kingdom.”
“ He praised Mr Murphy’s performance since he arrived in September, resulting in improved relations between both countries,” he added.
Mr Piseth said Mr Murphy noted that both the United States and Cambodia undertake efforts to protect each other’s respective diplomatic missions and personnel and thanked Cambodia for the good cooperation that he receives.
“Mr Murphy told Mr Samrin about the meeting the former had with Prime Minister Hun Sen, aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation and both agreed to look into issues which both parties have not agreed on, in order to find a joint solution,” he said.
After the meeting, Mr Murphy posted a message on his Twitter page saying that he discussed Cambodia’s legislative process and efforts to improve the bilateral relationship of both countries.
“Noted the constitution’s commitment to multi-party system, and the importance of checks and balances in a high-functioning democracy,” he wrote.
US-Cambodia relations began to deteriorate in the lead up to the 2018 national election after the CNRP was dissolved in November 2017 and its leader accused of colluding with the US to overthrow the government.
The US then imposed visa restrictions on senior government officials accused of violating human rights and “undermining” democracy in the Kingdom.
US lawmakers have also made a move to introduce the Cambodian Trade Act 2019 to request the administration of President Donald Trump to review the Kingdom’s Generalized System of Preferences status.
Mr Piseth noted that both Mr Murphy and Mr Samrin did not discuss these issues, pointing out that US-Cambodia trade volume increased by $5 billion in 2019 under the GSP.
The United States and Cambodia first established diplomatic relations in 1950. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.