Thursday, November 29, 2012

Give our kids a better deal
US President Barack Obama, left, is shaking hand with Prime Minister Hun Sen
PHNOM PENH (The Cambodia Herald) - US President Barack Obama's visit to Phnom Penh for last week's ASEAN and related summits has acknowledged Cambodia's role as a key actor in regional and international affairs.

Outgoing ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said the visit benefited both Cambodia and ASEAN. At the bilateral level, however, the visit required both countries to be more understanding of each other to promote relations. 

Unlike Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to Cambodia before the East Asia Summit with the clear goal of expanding relations in all sectors. At the same time, China provided $53 million to Cambodia in aid.

Although Obama did not pay such an official visit, he did hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen which clearly reflected relations between the two countries. 

Obama mentioned human rights issues as well as the detention of Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando, convicted of organizing a secession in Kratie. At the same time, Obama ignored Cambodia's request to cancel $300 million in wartime debt.

The White House acknowledged that the meeting was "tense" between the two leaders.

Although the United States has strong relations with Cambodia, it is China that has grabbed Cambodian hearts.


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