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Australia’s top brass in town

Cheang Sokha / Khmer Times Share:
This file photo shows vice-chief of the Australian Defence Force, Ray Griggs (left) meeting with US diplomats in 2012. Supplied

A senior Australian military official will visit Cambodia today and tomorrow to boost armed forces cooperation as part of a tour to strengthen peace in the region.

Ray Griggs, vice-chief of the Australian Defence Force, will meet secretary of state for defence Neang Phat, deputy chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Ung Samkhan, as well as Hun Manet of the National Counter Terrorism Special Forces.

“Australia has a long standing history of engagement with Cambodia,” Australian Ambassador Angela Corcoran said.

“We are working with Cambodia and other countries to ensure our region is safe, secure and prosperous.

“Australian’s defence cooperation programme in Cambodia is part of this commitment.”

During the trip, Vice-Admiral Griggs will visit the College of Social Science and Language, where Australia is providing English training for young members of the Cambodian armed forces.

Australia is also supporting the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province to ensure maritime security.

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said military cooperation between Cambodia and Australia was strong and had led to improved training for local armed forces.

“Our cooperation is good,” Gen Socheat said.

“Our military position is neutral. We don’t favour any country.”

Cambodia in February cancelled a counter-terrorism exercise with Australia, citing budget constraints and the forthcoming elections as reasons why the country could no longer participate.

A large-scale military exercise with the US was also scrapped a month earlier, for the same reason. Cambodia has however continued such exercises with China.

Vice-Admiral Griggs’ visit to Cambodia is part of a Southeast Asian tour that will also take in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

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