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Agriculture, Art Top Ambassador’s List

[Editor’s note: Carol Rodley became Cambodia’s ambassador in October 2008. In an interview with VOA Khmer in March, she discussed the growing relationship between Cambodia and the US, on topics ranging from the Khmer Rouge tribunal to the global financial crisis. Below is the sixth of a six-part series resulting from the interview.]

Q. What would you like to achieve during your term as US Ambassador?

A. You know, I came back to a Cambodia that’s very different from the Cambodia that I left in 2000. All the development that has gone on in the last 10 years is really remarkable. I am very encouraged to see the progress that has been made. One of the areas where there’s not much progress has been made, and it surprises me a little bit, is in agriculture.

When I was here before everyone would say the Cambodian agricultural sector was just ready to take off and make huge increases in productivity and help boost prosperity, especially for a population that’s 80 percent rural. That’s where 80 percent of Cambodians live. So I would like to find a way to contribute to the development in the agricultural sector, and finally get that sector of the economy up to its potential. That’s where I am going to focus a lot of my efforts.

One thing that we did not talk about at all is culture. I have been thinking about this ever since I presented my credentials to His Majesty, the king. I would like also to find more ways to engage our two countries in culture, because I see a renaissance of culture going on here these days in Cambodia. Music, dance, arts, cinema. There are just so many cultural activities going on. I was at the premier of “Where Elephants Weep,” the rock opera, which was for me a wonderful example of Cambodian and American collaboration in the artistic realms. And I think it’s not so widely appreciated in America, all the wonderful activities that are going on in the arts here.

I also want to try to find a way to highlight Cambodian arts in the United States. You can mark that down as my second project; first agriculture, second arts.