Cambodia will likely postpone the upcoming 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem13) to next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Asem13 was scheduled for November 16-17 in Phnom Penh, but as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads, Cambodia plans to reach out to the EU and other Asem members to discuss delaying the event to next year.
According to a Tuesday press release by the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was assigned with preparing to discuss the postponement with Asem.
The release said the decision was made after a top-level meeting lead by Prime Minister Hun Sen concerning drafting a law to declare a state of emergency.
Hun Sen recently told all government officials to cancel overseas and domestic travel, another measure to curb the spread.
Asem has 53 partners, including 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the EU and the Asean Secretariat.
Cambodia had proposed a theme for Asem13 that reflects the Kingdom’s efforts to promote Asem as a cornerstone of global governance: Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth.
It focuses on the interaction of four ideas – multilateralism, growth, sustainable development and prosperity.
President of the Royal Academy of Cambodia Sok Touch said Europe is being hit hard by Covid-19. When the situation is resolved, it would take time to recover economically and make precautionary plans, he said.
“Delaying the meeting to next year is a good option. But if we attract them to have a meeting this year, we can prove to them that Cambodia is just a country that contracted the virus from outsiders. We then can attract tourists through this meeting,” he said.
He said if the Covid-19 pandemic ends sometimes soon, Asem13 could take place at the end of the year.
The Kingdom should also bring in more countries from the Americas and Africa to share their experiences in combating Covid-19, Touch said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said it was too early for him to comment on the delay.