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PM Hun Sen asks US to Cancel Debt

Written By vibykhmer on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 | 5:33 AM

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Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 08 September 2009

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday once again asked the US to cancel over US$300 million in debt dating to the 1970s Lon Nol periods.

PM Hun Sen made the request directly to Carol A. Rodley, US ambassador to Cambodia, who also joined other foreign diplomats at a ceremony of releasing the final results of the 2008 population census Theater in Phnom Penh.

“The US should stop demanding Cambodia to pay the debt because large amount of bombs were dropped by Americans here on Cambodians victims,” the premier said. “The US should pay compensation for Cambo- dians and the US has to provide more assistance for Cambodians.”

The US was receptive to the Cambodian premier’s request. “This is a longstanding bilateral issue. Under international law, governments are generally responsible for theobligations of their predecessors. We hope that an agreement to resolve Cambo- dia’s debt to the US can be reached soon and believe that such an agreement could benefit Cambodia’s people, while also enhancing Camb-odia’s creditworthiness and its ability to access international capital markets,” said John Johnson, spokesman for the US embassy to Cambodia .

It is not the first time that Cambodian side has asked the US to cancel debts.

Cambodia has lobbied the US many times to cancel its debt both at the Senate and National Assembly (NA) levels, and has raised the issue with US development partners. No concrete answer has yet been forthcoming from the American side.

Cheam Yeap, a ruling party lawmaker and chairman of the Committ- ees of Finance, Banking and Economy of the Cambodian NA, said that “we have been trying to urge US side to cancel debts for several times but the American side is considering and they need approval from the congress. The debt is not a matter of cooperation and relationship between the two sides.”

However, Cambodia and the US have exchanged official visits several times and have recently grown closer.

Bilateral cooperation stretches to fighting against terrorism, and military cooperation and aid.

The US has also helped Cambodia provide security training for Cambo- dian Government officials and soldiers, The US side also sent warships to dock at Sihanoukville port to further strengthen military ties.

Cambodia and the US have a long relationship of cooperation which has provided mutual benefits for both nations. The lion’s share of Cambodia’s garment products have been imported to the US market, although the global financial crisis has sent exports tumbling.

On September 8, the US will hand over US$34 million to Cambodia to improve education and healthcare at a signing at the Cambodian Foreign Ministry. Earlier this week, the US also handed over US$6.5 million of military equipment to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). The US also provides scholarship for Cambodian students to study in the US at graduate levels.

Last week, Cambodia cooperated with US to deport three sex offenders back to the US where they will face justice.

One recent controversy was the remarks of US Ambassador Carol A. Rodley about corruption in Cambodia. Cambodian government leaders criticized her, calling her comments about the well-publicized scourge of graft in Cambodia baseless.

Cambodian MFAA Spokesperson Koy Kuong said that Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong will join the UN General Assembly late this month in New York “but so far, I do not know exactly about the meeting between he and his American counterpart Hilary Clinton. But the two figures already met in Thailand with other foreign ministers.”

US President Batrack Obama also cancelled the blacklist of Cambodia as a communist country.

A lingering point of friction are the 2,000 or so ‘deportees’—Cambo- dians who grew up in the US but have been deported back to Cambodia after they committed cries in the US.

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