Australia has vowed to increase cooperation with Cambodia in a bid to build closer ties.
The announcement came yesterday after Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn and Australian Ambassador Angela Corcoran signed an agreement on establishing regular talks between senior officials from both countries.
Mr Sokhonn said the agreement was new a mechanism aimed at further enhancing cooperation, dialogue and consultation in the political, security, economic and cultural fields and to exchange views on subjects of common interest and concern for both countries.
“Under this agreement, both foreign ministries agreed to convene meetings annually or whenever necessary at the level of undersecretary of state from the Cambodian side and first assistant secretary from the Australian side,” Mr Sokhonn said.
Ms Corcoran said Australia and Cambodia had a long standing relationship stretching back 65 years.
“We enjoy a broad bilateral relationship with a shared commitment to make our region stronger, to bring our countries closer together and to create opportunities for all Cambodians and all Australians,” she said.
She added that the two nations looked forward to exchanging views, including Australia’s development cooperation programme with Cambodia.
“We will also use the senior officials’ talks to discuss regional challenges and opportunities, including countering terrorism, irregular migration, non-proliferation and human rights,” she said.
Both officials said the new agreement would mark a new step in enhancing the existing friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries based on the principles of equality, mutual interest and respect.
Cambodia and Australia established diplomatic relations on January 15, 1952. Australia played a crucial role in the Cambodian Peace Process in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly its leading role in the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia from 1992 to 1993.
As the third largest bilateral donor to Cambodia, Australia has maintained a strong commitment to the kingdom’s development. Despite a 40 percent decrease in its overall overseas aid to Asia in the 2015-2016 budget, Australia’s assistance to Cambodia slightly increased to approximately $59 million in 2015.
Its assistance focused primarily on infrastructure and trade, agriculture and rural development, health, education and good governance and the rule of law.
Australia is also one of the biggest donors to the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia, otherwise known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, with total assistance of nearly $23.2 million between 2005 and 2014.