The Cambodian government has called on North Korea to respect U.N. Security Council resolutions and urged it to cease its nuclear testing program amid fresh sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.
The United Nations on Monday approved new sanctions against North Korea following its sixth and largest nuclear test.
In a statement on Tuesday, Cambodia’s foreign ministry said it “regrets and expresses the grave concern over the nuclear test” North Korea conducted on September 3.
“This sixth nuclear test is a repeated violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and poses a threat to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region as a whole and will further deteriorate the already tense situation,” it said.
Chheang Vannarith, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, said the statement was in line with the international communities stance and “also to demonstrate Cambodia’s relevant role in collectively pressuring North Korea.”
“It may be a signal to the U.S. that Cambodia matters in U.S. North Korea strategy. Hence, the U.S. is expected not to take harsh measures against Phnom Penh concerning democracy and human rights,” he said.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have heightened since U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued to threaten the United States.
In a joint statement issued by the 10 Asean states in August, the bloc said its members could play “any role in seeking peace on the Korean peninsula.”
Cambodia’s relationship with North Korea stems from King Sihanouk’s friendship with the father of North Korea, dictator Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of its current ruler, Kim Jong Un.
Kim built Sihanouk a winter palace outside Pyongyang in 1974 and provided the king with an elite bodyguard unit. Diplomatic relations continue, as they have done since 1965, and Cambodia remains one of the relatively few countries to host a North Korean embassy.
Ko Yunju, deputy director general of South Korea’s North Korea Nuclear Affairs Bureau, said in an interview with VOA Khmer in July that he believed Cambodia could play “a unique role” in seeking peace on the peninsula.