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Russia and Cambodia Discuss Investment and Debt Collection

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev listens to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, during documents signing ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP)

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Hun Sen met Tuesday, discussing investment and debt as Russia seeks to advance diplomatic ties in the region.

Cambodia owes Russia some $1.5 billion in debt incurred after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia has asked Russia in the past for debt forgiveness, to no avail, and a Cambodian government spokesman said Tuesday the two leaders had agreed to discuss it further.

Meanwhile, Cambodia is seeking more investment from Russia, as well as opportunities for direct flights between the countries, scholarships for Cambodian students, and markets for rice and garment products.

Both sides meanwhile signed a number of agreements, including information exchange to combat money laundering and terrorism financing; political cooperation between the Cambodian People’s Party and the All-Russian Political Party United Russia; an understanding on cooperation for future nuclear power use; and other investment deals.

Kung Phoak, president of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, told VOA Khmer that Russia appears to be expanding its influence in Southeast Asia, which has been in decline. It is seeking the benefit of expanded trade and investment, at a time when Asean is set to establish an economic integration policy, he said.