Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a delegation to the European Union in the latest leg of an international tour following his controversial victory in elections in July.
In the months since the election, Hun Sen has visited the United States, Japan and Indonesia in a bid to smooth relations with the international community amid criticism of the way his ruling Cambodian People’s Party organized the elections after banning the country’s main opposition party.
Hun Sen also plans to attend a global trade conference in Geneva, Switzerland, during his European visit.
Departing from Cambodia on Tuesday, the long-serving prime minister posted on his Facebook page, saying he would attend the Asia-Europe meeting in Brussels.
"After the Asia Europe Meeting, I will visit Turkey from October 20 to October 22. On October 22, I will be leaving Turkey to Geneva to participate in a trade conference and will be leaving Switzerland on the night of October 24. "
He added that he would meet with Khmer expatriates living in Europe.
"Look at the Overseas Work schedule this time; mostly busy with meetings, bilateral meetings, which mean I almost can’t find time to have meal, but I would like to do this for our national interest."
Diplomatic tensions with Europe are high as the EU is considering removing Cambodia from a preferential trade scheme that benefits the Cambodian garment industry, one of the country’s largest employers, over the CPP’s anti-democratic track record.
Opposition groups are due to protest Hun Sen’s presence at the Asia-Europe meeting and trade conference, while supporters of the prime minister are due to welcome him on arrival.
Chheang Vannarith, a regional analyst, said Hun Sen has spent the last few years attempting to mend Cambodia’s image in the west.
"Cambodia wants to show diversification and [that it is] not an isolated country,” he said.