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Peacekeeping Exercises Open Amid Concerns

Cambodia opened a massive peacekeeping exercise Tuesday that is supported by the US. But Human Rights Watch says the choice of Cambodia for the operation, Angkor Sentinel, undermines US human rights diplomacy.

Multiple peacekeeping exercises that include troops from 26 countries began today and will carry through the end of the month as part of a global peacekeeping initiative supported by the US.

“For the Pentagon and State Department to permit abusive Cambodian military units to host a high-profile regional peacekeeping exercise is outrageous,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “The United States undermines its protests against the Cambodian government for rampant rights abuses like forced evictions when it showers international attention and funds on military units involved in grabbing land and other human rights violations.”

However, Cambodian military officials welcomed the exercises, which will include more than 1,000 troops from countries as diverse as China, India, the US, Tonga and Brunei and are aimed at improving the abilities of those countries to conduct UN operations together.

“This is the first time in the history of the Cambodian military that we have hosted multi-national exercise training,” said Nem Sowath, a three-star general and chairman of the exchange subcommittee.

The training will include command post exercises at a hotel in Phnom Penh followed by field training exercises in Kampong Speu province.