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US and Cambodia discuss debt and strengthening relationship

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Monday to discuss on a wide-range of issues, from human rights to bilateral debt, a US State Department official said.

The two top diplomats met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and their discussion focused on democracy, human rights, recent development at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, law enforcement, US involvement in regional issues like Burma and the lower Mekong region, the official told VOA Khmer on Wednesday.

The official, who asked not to be named because they were speaking on behalf of the State Department, confirmed that the subject of Cambodia’s debt to the US was brought up.

The official did not want to discuss results of the meeting.

One day before meeting Clinton, Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer that he would bring up the issue of debt Cambodia owed to the US. Some Cambodian officials say the amount is more than $300 million.

“Cambodia has never demanded reparations for the [US] bombing during the Vietnam War, which killed many Cambodians and caused damages. Cambodia has never asked for compensation. Therefore, the US should understand the debt Cambodia owes,” Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer in a one-on-one interview on Sunday.

Hor Namhong said he would also like to turn majority of the debt into development assistance and Cambodia would pay a small portion of it if the US cannot cancel it completely.