Government postpones meet with US on demining

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Demining personnel in Stung Treng in 2014. The government has abruptly cancelled a meeting sponsored by the US to map out a strategy for the Cambodian Mine Action and Victims Assistance Authority. Pha Lina

The Cambodia Mine Action and Victims Assistance Authority (CMAA) has abruptly postponed a UN- and US-supported conference scheduled for next Monday.

The conference to present of the Draft National Mine Action Strategy 2017-2025 was set to take place at Phnom Penh’s Sunway Hotel. The postponement follows the Kingdom’s suspension of military cooperation programs with the US and Australia and increased tension between the government and the UN’s human rights arm, which officials have accused of interfering in domestic affairs.

But CMAA’s first vice president, senior minister Serei Kosal, said the decision was not related to any broader scale-back of cooperation, but because staff were busy abroad after Khmer New Year.

He said the conference would go ahead next month, but did not provide a date. “We encourage this national plan and strategy and want to speed it up to receive trust from our partners and friends,” he said.

US Embassy deputy spokesman David Josar referred questions about the postponement to the government.

He added that the event “was intended to rally international support for Cambodia’s demining efforts . . . It did not involve US military personnel”.

A representative of the UNDP communications team, meanwhile, said the body had not received an official notice cancelling the conference.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING MECH DARA