PHNOM PENH - Cambodia has nominated a new ambassador to the Philippines, following a diplomatic row over the failed Asean security meeting in July and Cambodia’s positions on the South China Sea.
The former ambassador, Hos Sreythoun, was recalled to Cambodia Aug. 6, despite calls from the Philippines government to answer for statements he made in the media criticizing the Philippines for helping derail the Asean meeting.
Cambodia hosted the security meeting last month, in its role as rotating president of Asean, but the region’s ministers failed to agree on a code of conduct for the South China Sea or even to deliver a joint communique on their meeting, a first in 45 years.
Hos Sreythoun later told a newspaper in Manila that Vietnam and the Philippines had “sabotaged” the talks over the South China Sea.
Independent analysts have said the talks failed because Cambodia took a hardline position on language in the code of conduct and the communique that closely mirrored the position of China, which has overlapping claims in the sea with Vietnam, the Philippines and other Asean states and is a major aid donor to Cambodia.
Hos Sreythoun failed to appear before the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs to answer for his politically sensitive comments.
Cambodian officials say he was returned for health reasons. He will be replaced with Tout Panha, an undersecretary of state for the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the ministry.
Koy Kuong said the ambassador change was not because of the South China Sea issue. “The change will not affect our diplomatic relations,” he said.