The United States will stop issuing visas to high-ranking officials at the foreign ministry as part of a new raft of sanctions after Cambodia refused to accept deportees.
The sanctions affect foreign ministry employees with the rank of director general and above and their families, according to an announcement on Wednesday.
David Josar, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, declined to comment on the decision.
In August, CNN reported that President Donald Trump’s administration would impose visa sanctions on four countries, including Cambodia, over their refusal to accept deportees.
Phay Siphan, a government spokesman, said the sanctions were a human rights violation. “We respect U.S. sovereignty. It is an independent state. So is Cambodia... We are not the U.S.’s puppet.”
Chum Sounry, a foreign affairs spokesman, declined to comment.
Tensions between the U.S. and Cambodia have escalated since the government banned democracy promotion NGO the National Democratic Institute from the country last month and expelled its foreign staff.
Cambodia later accused the United States of being behind an unsubstantiated opposition plot to overthrow the government.
U.S. Ambassador William A. Heidt on Tuesday described the accusations as “baseless”, adding that government officials had “completely, and intentionally, mischaracterized what the United States is doing in Cambodia.”