Cambodia

After Failed Meeting, Cambodia Defends Asean Chairmanship

ASEAN countries' foreign ministers join their hands during a photo session at the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Plus three Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. ASEAN countries' foreign ministers join their hands during a photo session at the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Plus three Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
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ASEAN countries' foreign ministers join their hands during a photo session at the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Plus three Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
ASEAN countries' foreign ministers join their hands during a photo session at the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Plus three Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
VOA Khmer
WASHINGTON DC - A government spokesman says Cambodia worked hard to maintain Asean unity during its time as head of the regional bloc, despite criticism.

Asean failed to deliver a joint communique following a major security meeting in Phnom Penh earlier this month, for the first time in 45 years. Members also failed to agree on a code of conduct to reduce tension over the South China sea, where four Asean states have overlapping claims with China.

Regional policy analysts have pointed to Cambodia’s behavior during meetings that favored positions held by China over the South China Sea as a reason for the unprecedented impasse. But Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, told “Hello VOA” on Monday that Cambodia was in fact trying to keep “a window open for more discussions,” by trying to prevent a dispute, especially with the claims to the sea made by Vietnam and the Philippines.

Cambodian “contained the dispute,” he said, even though it meant Asean members could not agree on a code of conduct or even a joint statement. “This means we didn’t let Asean get into a dispute with China.”

However, critics say it was Cambodia that caused disunity among Asean states, by taking a stalwart position that benefitted China, whose interests lie in bilateral discussions and not with Asean as a united bloc.


Phay Siphan said Cambodia, as Asean chair, does not want to see “war” between member states and China. “We do not want to see that because we used to suffer from war,” he said.

A week after the security meetings, and with the brokering of Indonesia, Asean members finally issued a statement saying they were united in seeing the South China Sea issue resolved under international law and UN conventions. Phay Siphan said this showed “consensus” among the 10 Asean membrer states.

“It is even more beneficial than a joint communique,” he said.
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Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
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22 July 2014
Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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