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Opposition Cautious on Stronger Ties With Iran

Cambodia should be cautious in its relationship with Iran, which is facing international sanctions for its nuclear policies, an opposition lawmaker said.

“If we generate a relationship with a country that the international community sees as a country that it can barely work with, that makes Cambodia lose credibility too,” said Yim Sovann, a spokesman and lawmaker for the party.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong visited Tehran last month, signing agreements on trade, economics power and investment with leaders there. But Yim Sovann said making such deals was not necessary to draw investment.

“Cambodia should just fulfill its tasks to ensure the rule of law, human rights and non-corruption, and then a lot of investors will wish to come to our country,” he said.

However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodia's international position is one of non-alliance, so there should be no divide in its diplomacy.

“Iran has a lot of friends also,” he said. “It is not only Cambodia who is a good friend of Iran.”

Cambodia has had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1992, but it has not established an embassy or consulate there. This month Cambodia provided for diplomatic visa exemptions and passports in its embassies abroad.

A Cambodian diplomat told VOA Khmer Cambodia was looking to Iran for investment and tourism amid a feeling that relationships with the West have not provided enough benefit.

And an analyst said the move toward Iran was likely prompted by a desire to push the West to pay more attention to development rather than “pressure.”