The first U.S. Navy warship in more than 30 years has docked at a Cambodian port. The USS Gary, a guided-missile frigate, will remain in the Sihanoukville port until Tuesday.
Joseph Mussomeli, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said the visit shows a deepening of relations between the U.S. and Cambodia.
Last July, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific (, Admiral William Fallon,) visited Cambodia on what was called a "get-to-know-you" mission, designed to find out what the U.S. military could do to help the country rebuild its armed forces.
The visit followed by United States concerns about China's military and economic influence in the region. Cambodian Admiral Uk Seiha, Sihanoukville mayor Say Hak, and U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli greeted the U.S. navy at the port on Friday.
For the next five days Sihanoukville and its surrounding areas will see plenty of the US sailors. These sailors will help with construction work, which they hope to attract thousands of people to medical and dental clinics.
Their last U.S. major operation in the port was a mission to rescue the crew of a merchant ship captured by the Khmer Rouge, however, Cambodian waters hold unhappy memories for US forces. The rescue was successful but at a price of 41 US troop’s deaths, and it marked the start of a long period of US antipathy towards Cambodia.