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US State Dep’t Official in Cambodia for Talks

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel was in Cambodia Wednesday, part of an official tour through the region, the State Department said.

Marciel, who is visiting Cambodia for the first time, opened three days of talks Wednesday with his Foreign Affairs Ministry counterpart, Ouch Borith, to discuss bilateral assistance, counterterrorism and economic issues, officials said.

“We are going to ask for cooperation on not only bilateral issues, but also human rights issues with the government, to ensure that there is no severe human rights abuse on the poor and the powerless,” said Thun Saray, head of the rights group Adhoc. “Freedom of expression in public has gone from bad to worse, especially in 2007.”

Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development, called the visit “significant” and reflected US interest in Cambodia.

“The US is the world’s superpower, so its voice is so influential,” she said.