U.S.-Cambodia Relations: Not Only About Human Rights

The bilateral discussion between U.S. President Barrack Obama and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on 19 November 2012 was in the spot light in the backdrop to the South China Sea issue, ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and the launching of the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP). The focus of the meeting touched on the issues of human rights and democracy in Cambodia. The conversation was generally described as “tense”. Although human rights remain the impediment of the bilateral relationship between the two countries, there are other areas of cooperation especially in defence and security between the two countries. The recent bilateral talk between U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and his counterpart General Tea Banh in Siem Reap on November 16, 2012 produced positive step towards strengthening institutionalized bilateral defence cooperation especially in capacity building of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. In terms of economic relation, U.S. is the biggest market of Cambodian export and there is an increasing interest of the US companies in investing in this part of the region. Cambodia-US relations have positively developed in the last few years and it will continue to grow in the coming years.

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