PM accepts Trump’s invite to 2020 US-Asean summit

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Prime Minister Hun Sen meets with US Ambassador Patrick Murphy at the Peace Palace last Thursday. Hun Sen’s Facebook page

In a letter addressed to US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday accepted his invitation to attend the US-Asean summit in the US early next year. Hun Sen also expressed his appreciation of the US’ continuous support for the Kingdom.

The prime minister’s letter responded to two sent by Trump earlier this month stating his pledge of support for the Kingdom and inviting Hun Sen to attend the upcoming summit.

In one letter, Trump assured that the US “is committed to providing support for Cambodia. In particular, the US respects Cambodia’s sovereignty and does not support regime change”.

However, Trump also urged the government to put more efforts into strengthening democracy.

“It is important for the future of our bilateral relationship that you put Cambodia back on the path of democratic government.

“As a first step, I hope you will re-evaluate certain decisions taken by your government that the United States firmly believes put at great risk the Kingdom of Cambodia’s long-term sovereignty, stability and economic development,” Trump said.

In response, Hun Sen replied: “I am foremost reassured by your explicit statement whereby you seek genuine engagement to pursue democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law rather than regime change.

“As a very young democracy, you probably can appreciate our struggle to find full peace, a condition sine qua non before we can rebuild our nation in full adherence to a liberal multiparty democratic system.”

Echoing Trump, Hun Sen also acknowledged strains in relations between the two countries but hoped that the foreign affairs ministries of both nations would work together “to restore trust and confidence, and renew the bond of friendship between [the] two countries”.

“There are so many other beautiful chapters that are worth nourishing for the greater good of both of our countries and people.

“In contemporary times, the prosperity of the Cambodian people was in part the fruits of the contribution of the American people and the government, from the peaceful democratisation to nation-building, social governance, and generous market access,” he said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the prime minister held the cooperation between the two countries in high regard, saying that it showed the honest relations between Cambodia and the US.

“It also showed that Cambodia needs nothing but peace and stability,” Siphan added.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the constructive feedback on the leaders’ letters showed their openness to strengthening relations between the two nations.

Political analyst So Chantha said the exchange of messages was a sign of positive development for Cambodia-US relations in the 21st century.

“A balanced relation with great powers is the best choice for Cambodia to foster social and economic development,” he said.

Finally, Phea noted that, with respect to the blossoming ties between the two nations, “the US must not carry out any activity that could be seen as an attempt to incite a change in government or interfere with the Kingdom’s internal affairs”.