Cambodia has called for disputing parties in the South China Sea (SCS) to find peaceful solutions and apply international law.
Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn said that Cambodia, as a non-claimant state, wishes that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.
Sokhonn’s statement was made during the 27th Asean Regional Forum on Saturday via video conference, which was held as part of the 53rd Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings from September 9 to Saturday.
He said: “Cambodia encourages all parties, especially those directly concerned, to fully and effectively implement the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) because it is a way to reinforce trust and confidence.”
Sokhonn said it is important to continue a dialogue and for parties to seek peaceful resolution over disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982.
He raised two major security challenges at the meeting, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and a unilateral disengagement from international commitments during a time where the world needs more galvanised efforts.
Sokhonn recalled the Asean Foreign Ministers statement on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia.
“Cambodia is determined to avoid taking sides in great power rivalries, bearing in mind the country’s tragic past,” he said.
“Cambodia’s constitutional principles of permanent neutrality and non-alignment do not allow Cambodia to host any foreign military bases or join any military alliance or treaty,” Sokhonn added.
Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute director Kin Phea told Khmer Times yesterday that Cambodia’s unchanged position shows its’ desire to see all the relevant parties find a solution diplomatically and peacefully. They wish to see dispute negotiations made as soon as possible based on the DOC.
“The South China Sea issue is a hot topic as parties outside the conflict domain, including the US are also involved. Cambodia always insisted that those involved should use a bilateral mechanism between China and relevant parties such as China-Vietnam or China-Philippines peacefully,” he said.
“If the dispute worsens, it could cause instability in the region and affect a number of sectors,” he said. “I think Cambodia’s position at this time is positive.”
Separately, at the first Mekong- US partnership ministerial meeting on Friday, Sokhonn said as the next co-chair alongside the US in 2021, Cambodia is committed to advancing this partnership to a greater height in the spirit of mutual respect and benefit.
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