Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn yesterday asked the United States to amend an agreement covering the repatriation of Cambodians who commit crimes in the US and also sought Germany’s help in the Kingdom’s bid to retain its Everything-but-arms trade status.
Mr Sokhonn yesterday held separate meetings with US Ambassador Patrick Murphy and German Ambassador Christian Berger at the ministry.
Koy Kuong, ministry spokesman, told the press after the meetings that Mr Sokhonn and Mr Murphy discussed past cooperation between the US and the Kingdom.
He noted that Mr Sokhonn requested the US to amend the repatriation agreement in order to allow deported Cambodians to visit their families who they leave behind.
“Minister Sokhonn requested that the MoU be amended so that those who have been deported for committing crimes can be allowed to visit their families in the United States,” he said. “Ambassador Murphy said that both parties [US and Cambodia] will work together to iron out the issue.”
“We are focused on humanitarian principles and we want to allow those who were deported to Cambodia to have the opportunity to meet and visit their relatives in the US,” Mr Kuong noted.
Bill Herod, spokesperson for the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organisation, yesterday said via email that he has come to know many Cambodians repatriated from the US over the years.
“I am encouraged to know that the Cambodian government continues to seek a stop to family separations,” he said.
During the meeting with Mr Sokhonn, Mr Murphy also expressed the US’ desire to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
He noted that bilateral trade between the two countries reached about $4 billion last year with Cambodia importing about $446 million worth of goods from the US.
Mr Kuong said that Mr Murphy also told Mr Sokhonn that the United States has a clear policy of not meddling in the internal affairs of any country.
“As the ambassador and representative of the US, I am here to support the growth of a significant partnership with Cambodia,” he quoted Mr Murphy as saying.
Besides meeting Mr Murphy, Mr Sokhonn also met with Mr Berger and both discussed bilateral relations and cooperation.
Mr Kuong said the ambassador said that Germany wanted Cambodia to retain the EBA.
“Germany wants Cambodia to keep the EBA status,” he quoted Mr Berger as saying.
Mr Kuong noted that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Germany was about $1.2 billion last year and $550 million during the first six months of this year.
“The trade volume between Cambodia and Germany is biggest among the 28 member countries in European Union,” he said.
Mr Kuong said Mr Sokhonn congratulated Mr Berger on his appointment as the ambassador and thanked the German government for aiding the Kingdom’s development.
Germany has provided $65 million for the education, health and other sectors from 2013 to 2015. It has also provided about $26 million for demining work since 1994.
“Germany provides about $1 million a year to help the Kingdom achieve its target of being mine-free by 2025,” Mr Kuong noted.
He said Germany has also provided scholarships to 1,327 Cambodian students since 1980 and about 100,000 German tourists visit the Kingdom yearly.