Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn met with newly appointed Italian Ambassador to Cambodia Lorenzo Galanti on Monday, with the pair pledging improved cooperation between the two countries, according to ministry spokesman Ket Sophan.
He told reporters that Sokhonn proposed points of cooperation between the countries relating to political issues, adding that he hoped to establish a consultative mechanism.
Through this mechanism, he said, both parties may have regular meetings to discuss issues faced by the countries, including issues such as Everything But Arms (EBA) and the EU imposed tariffs on Cambodian rice exports.
“H.E. Prak Sokhonn took the opportunity to talk about the EBA and also about political issues after the election, which had been peaceful and had no violence,” he said.
Italy was among the leading EU countries calling for the imposition of tariffs on Cambodian rice exports into the bloc, as it claimed the Kingdom’s rice was harming its farmers.
Galanti is also Italy’s ambassador to Thailand and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Ket Sophan said Sokhonn proposed increasing trade between the two countries,as well as establishing a business forum to benefit Cambodia’s Italian business community.
Sophan added that the Cambodian and Italian governments have already signed Memorandums of Understanding on cooperation across both the tourism and cultural sectors.
Sokhonn also reportedly told the Italian ambassador that the Cambodian government has taken measures to address concerns over democracy in the Kingdom, such as the recently passed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties, paving the way for restoring the political rights of Supreme Court banned opposition politicians.
He also cited regular government meetings between civil society groups and NGOs.
In the meeting, Galanti reportedly welcomed Cambodia’s proposal of improved ties and is also said to have congratulated the Kingdom on its strong economic growth in recent years.
“[I would like to congratulate Cambodia] especially in infrastructure, construction and increase of worker’s wage – in short Cambodia’s economy has shown strong growth,” he was reported as saying.