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Hun Sen Praises US-Cambodia Relations

Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday praised the strengthening relationship between Cambodia and the US, including the high number of garment exports to lucrative US markets, direct US aid, military aid and cooperation on counterterrorism.

"America's market absorbs a lot of goods from Cambodia," Hun Sen said to reporters in Phnom Penh.

"The US has provided military aid to Cambodia," he said. "Cambodia and the US are the most important partner in fighting against terrorism, and the US helped Cambodian soldiers participate in a military exercises within the UN framework, in Mongolia."

The US cut off direct aid to Cambodia after Hun Sen seized power in a 1997 coup d'etat. Aid resumed earlier this year, and relations have warmed.

But Hun Sen told reporters the bilateral relationship was not "up to the level both countries deserve."

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said the US was happy to see better relations.

Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development, said the improving relations between Washington and Phnom Penh was an answer to China's superpower influence in Asia.

China is widely seen to have expanding interest in the developing world, including Cambodia.

Cambodia needs the US market, despite having a market like China for its goods, opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said.

"We cannot depend on trade with China," he said. "We must strengthen good governance and fight corruption."