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Cambodia prepares to stage biennial summit amid pandemic concerns

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn leads the discussion regarding preparations for the upcoming 13th ASEM Summit. Fresh News

Despite the global pandemic, the Kingdom is expected to push through with the upcoming 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, with some foreign leaders confirming their attendance to the biennial gathering.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in January officially announced the Kingdom’s hosting of the said summit, which is set to be held from November 16 to 17 in Phnom Penh under the theme, “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth”.

Held yearly, questions as to whether the ASEM Summit will carry on this year arose after the emergence of the global pandemic.

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn, who is also the chairman of the National Committee for Organising the ASEM13, led the discussion for the preparation of the upcoming summit.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday the government is expected to host the summit as planned.

“No change has been made yet,” said Mr Kuong. “All relevant sub-commissions are working to prepare for the summit.”

According to the National Police, more than 10,000 police officers will be deployed in targeted areas to ensure public order and security during the meeting.

Seven events will be held concurrently namely, the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting, the Asia-Europe Economic and Business Forum, the ASEF Young Leaders Summit, the ASEF Editors’ Roundtable, the Asia-Europe Labour Forum, the Asia Europe People’s Forum and the ASEM Cultural Festival.

Luy David, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s secretary of state and head of the 13th ASEM Summit National Secretariat, told state-run news website Agence Kampuchea Presse yesterday that the invitation letters bearing the signature of the premier have been sent to ASEM partners, with some having confirmed their attendance.

“Currently, the National Committee for Organising the ASEM13 and the Committee’s Secretariat continue with the summit preparations, as set and approved by leaders of the 51 Asian and European nations and representatives of the EU and ASEAN,” said Mr David.

Despite adherence to the plan, Mr David expressed concern over the possible risk of the coronavirus affecting the summit.

“I would like to stress the only factor that can affect the organisation of this summit is the COVID-19 issue. That is why we must continue to keep a close watch towards the progress of the pandemic both in Cambodia and the rest of the world,” he said.

“As for us, we have already prepared a lot for the upcoming November summit in Phnom Penh. For example, the construction of the venue is nearly complete while logistics for the participating leaders and partners have already been prepared,” added Mr David.

In his previous speech, Mr Sokhonn said the Kingdom will benefit greatly from hosting the ASEM13 for the very first time. He said the summit will allow the Kingdom to showcase its achievements and boost bilateral cooperation with member countries.

“This Asia-Europe Meeting Summit covers political, security, economic and cultural cooperation,” he said. “It is an important forum that will promote cooperation between the two continents and provide many opportunities that are beneficial to Cambodia.”

The summit brings together leaders from 51 Asian and European countries and representatives of the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat – all of whom representing 65 percent of the global economy, 60 percent of the world’s population, 55 percent of global trade and 75 percent of global tourism.

The Kingdom became an ASEM member in 2004, eight years after the establishment of the intergovernmental process.

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