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Cambodia To Send Peacekeepers to Chad

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces will send 40 peacekeepers to the central African country of Chad for a one-year tour of duty, starting this month or November, a senior military official told VOA Khmer.

The peacekeeping tour coincides with Cambodian plans to hold a multi-national peacekeeping exercise, with US support, next year.

“We don’t know the specific day of their departure yet, because we are now processing their plane tickets, but they will leave soon,” Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said. “Now we are dealing with the finances, because it’s the UN’s budget.”

Cambodia has sent deminers to Sudan four times so far, totaling 495 soldiers, since signing an agreement with the UN in 2006, he said.

“We have shown the capacity of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces,” he said. “So far, Cambodia suffered domestic war and civil war, from 1970 to 1998, and we completely ended the war and ended the Khmer Rouge insurgency.”

The UN provided training in peacekeeping and mine clearance. “In 2006, we transformed from a country that was a landmine victim to a country that helps other countries clear landmines,” he said.

Cpt. Ek Veasna, who served in Division 315 in Sudan in 2008 and 2009, said the soldiers were well supported by the Sudanese and the international community.

“Our Cambodian military there was always committed to work for the best, even during rain or lightning,” he said. “Our soldiers always struggle for success to clear landmines for the people.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he was happy for the deployments, which provide a good salary for soldiers and their families.

The first 40 soldiers will be followed by another 80 for mine clearance.