The United Kingdom is seeking to become a dialogue partner with Asean after it leaves the European Union, a senior official said.
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Heather Wheeler, UK parliamentary under secretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, yesterday met with Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Meas Kimheng, an undersecretary of state at the Foreign Ministry, spoke to reporters after the closed-door meeting yesterday, saying that Ms Wheeler told Mr Sokhonn that the UK will request Cambodia’s support to become a dialogue partner of Asean after it leaves the European Union.
“Ms Wheeler said that when the UK leaves the European Union, the UK will request Cambodia’s support to become a dialogue partner of Asean,” Mr Kimheng said.
In addition to the EU, Asean has a dialogue partnership with nine countries, including Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
Mr Kimheng added that Ms Wheeler also said the UK will continue to boost trade with Cambodia.
He added that Ms Wheeler also raised the issue of the South China Sea, in which several Asean countries are involved in a dispute with China.
He said Mr Sokhonn in the meeting noted Cambodia’s neutral stance in the South China Sea dispute.
Mr Sokhonn in the meeting also thanked the UK government for providing aid to Cambodia to support various sectors, including education, demining and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Mr Kimheng said the meeting also discussed ongoing relations between the two countries, with Mr Sokhonn noting that bilateral trade reached more than $1 billion last year and that many large companies have begun investing in Cambodia.
Ms Wheeler also expressed satisfaction over the existing relations between the two countries, noting that Cambodia has been rapidly developing in recent years, especially in the economic sector.