Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday met US National Security Advisor Robert Charles O’Brien on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summit in Bangkok where both sides discussed ways to strengthen ties between both countries.
Mr O’Brien represented US President Donald Trump, who did not attend the summit which ended in Thailand on Monday.
Kao Kim Hourn, minister attached to the Prime Minister, yesterday told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that Mr Hun Sen had an “unofficial meeting” with the US representative while in Bangkok.
He noted that their meeting was “cordial and friendly”.
“They met to build up leadership ties and exchange ideas on topics of mutual interest,” he said. “Recently, the US ambassador to Cambodia also discussed the matter [of improving relations] with Prime Minister Hun Sen.”
Mr Kim Hourn noted that Mr O’Brien had extended an invitation from Mr Trump for Mr Hun Sen to attend an Asean-US meeting in the United States early next year.
He added that Mr O’Brien told Mr Hun Sen that he had met with most Asean leaders during the summit and also extended Mr Trump’s invitation to them.
Relations between the US and the Kingdom began to deteriorate after the opposition CNRP was dissolved in November 2017 by the Supreme Court and its leader Kem Sokha was accused of colluding with the US to overthrow the government.
After presenting his credentials to King Norodom Sihamoni last month, US Ambassador Patrick Murphy called for strengthened ties with the Kingdom during meetings with Mr Hun Sen and Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn.
US Embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg said via email yesterday that Mr O’Brien represented Mr Trump as his special envoy to the US-Asean and East Asia Summits
She said that during the summits, Mr O’Brien engaged with delegations from 17 other participating countries, including the ten Asean heads of state and government.
“This included, among others, a very brief courtesy discussion with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on the margins of the US-Asean Summit,” she said. “At the Summits, Ambassador O’Brien and his delegation reaffirmed the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and Asean’s central role in the region’s architecture.”
“The United States remains committed to supporting the Cambodian people, and a prosperous, democratic, and sovereign Cambodia.” Ms Zeeberg added.