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Cambodia’s foreign policy reaches out to two Koreas

Ek Tha / Khmer Times Share:
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith meets with North Korean Ambassador Jan Yun Gon at the ministry on Sept 1. KT/ Khem Sovannara

Positive or negative experiences, like those Cambodia experienced in the 1970s and 1980s, have no value unless we apply them to build firm foundations so as to move forward and develop the nation.

These lessons have contributed to the country’s foreign policy decisions.

It is a simple enough policy: keep old friends and build new friendships. The government welcomes friends from all over the world who like to build up ties with Cambodia. Those relationships must be based on an equal footing, a level playing field and mutual respect. Cambodia’s friendly demeanor is evident.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Hun Sen made that point when he talked to Cambodian students and workers on the sidelines of his visit to South Korea: “I advised Cambodian diplomats as well as officials at every level to make political decisions – domestic and foreign – based on national interest, and to stand on a position of independence to make decisions on external policies”.

The Premier’s instruction came with the two meetings on September 1, 2020, when Information Minister Khieu Kanharith met with South Korean Ambassador to Cambodia Park Heung-kyeong at the ministry.

The Cambodian government sees countries near and far as friends and welcomes social and peaceful cooperation for the well-being of the Cambodian people and its contribution to global peace and development.

In this respect, Information Minister welcomed South Korean ambassador’s support for the distance learning programme.

Cambodia’s Agency Press (AKP) reported: “The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has expressed the willingness to support Cambodia with the provision of distance learning programmes, especially to include those students in remote communities”.

Bilateral cooperation with South Korea will enable Cambodian students, whose classes have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to access education online, as well as global information needed for their education in the future.

The  government has also increased an investment in the education sector, because development of any kind needs to focus on human resources, among others.

Assistance from South Korea will contribute to narrowing the gap in the quality of education between those in remote and urban areas.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith meets with South Korean Ambassador Park Heung-Kyeong at the ministry on Sept 1. KT/ Khem Sovannara

AKP quoted South Korean ambassador as saying that it is important to balance access to distance learning between the students in urban and rural areas.

For North Korea, Ambassador Jan Yun Gon proposed Kanharith a high-level exchange visit in the information sector as part of an enhancement in bilateral cooperation once the COVID-19 crisis ends.

Cambodia welcomed the proposal and asked the North Korean side to continue its cooperation with the AKP by providing news articles and photos related to the development and progress of North Korea for publication in the Kambuja Magazine.

Kahnarith, who is also well-known to foreign correspondents as “KK”, met with the two Korean ambassadors this week.

The Cambodian government has signed some Memoranda of Understanding, separately with the two Korean governments in the fields of information, culture and social cooperation, along with maintaining good diplomatic relations.

However, Cambodia has never stopped dreaming of the unification of the two Koreas.

Cambodia’s government would like to see the resumption of dialogue between the divided Korean nations so as to resolve their differences through peaceful means and to bring about a unified Korea which is free of nuclear threat.

The Premier has repeatedly said, especially in his statement in early 2020: “it is true that we could not avoid respecting the UN resolution concerning North Korea. We had no choice. It is the UN resolution we must respect”.

“However, we will also continue normal relations with the North. We do not wish to be an enemy of North Korea. Along with this, we insist on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and settlement through a dialogue. Whether it be a negotiation between North Korea and the US, North Korea and South Korea, or multilateral negotiations, all should be conducted peacefully,” said the Premier.

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