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Cambodia Lashes US Over Corruption Statement

Senior Cambodian officials told reporters Tuesday that remarks about corruption made by the US ambassador last week could damage diplomatic relations between the two countries.

US Ambassador Carol Rodley said at a ceremony for an anti-corruption concert Saturday that the practice costs Cambodia $500 million a year.

At a press conference Tuesday, Om Yentieng, a senior adviser to Hun Sen and head of the government’s anti-corruption body, assailed the remarks as “one-sided.”

US-Cambodian relations have thawed in recent years, and the Southeast Asian nation has emerged as a willing ally in the regional war on terror.

But donors have pushed Cambodia to reign in deep-rooted corruption and continue to seek the passage of anti-corruption legislation that has been in a draft stage for more than a decade.

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson declined to comment on the government’s statements.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Minister sent official letters to the US Embassy saying the statement was regrettable.

The two government offices said the US was basing its view on a biased assessment from an opposition-aligned economic institute.