A two-day summit between US President Barack Obama and leaders of ASEAN ended Wednesday with 17 points of a joint declaration, aimed at strengthening between Southeast Asia and the US.
Prime Minister Hun Sen praised the meetings, held in Southern California this week, as a success. Hun Sen posted on Facebook a message saying the meetings had taken the US-ASEAN partnership “to another level.”
“I would like to express my gratitude to President Barack Obama and his colleagues, who received us with amity and with a well-organized summit, which was the element of the successful meeting,” Hun Sen wrote.
The joint declaration includes the following key principles: mutual respect for sovereignty and the principles of international law and the ASEAN Charter; economic growth; competitive economies; democracy and good governance; ASEAN-led mechanisms in regional politics; rules-based order that “upholds and protects the rights and privileges of all states”; peaceful dispute resolution; regional stability and maritime security; cooperation on “common challenges in the maritime domain”; resolve to lead on terrorism, extremism, human and drug trafficking, unregulated fishing and illegal wildlife and timber trade; a commitment to “addressing climate change and developing a climate-resilient, environmentally sustainable ASEAN”; promoting security in cyberspace “consistent with norms of responsible state behavior”; support for an ASEAN Community that is stable and affords opportunities to the young and vulnerable; global partnership through sustainable, equitable development; enhanced regional and international cooperation; and continued political dialogue at the head-of-state level, via the US-ASEAN and East Asia summits.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry told reporters Wednesday that Hun Sen is expected to arrive Thursday night, when more information on Cambodia-US talks will be available. The Sunnylands summit reflects an improvement in strategic relations between US and ASEAN, he added.
However, Ou Virak, head of the think tank Future Forum, said that improved US-ASEAN relations did not necessarily mean improved US-Cambodia relations. The US is concerned with the South China Sea issue, as well as improved democracy, human rights and good governance in the region.
“I think this is a message from the US that it does not want any dictatorial leader in the region,” he said.
The joint declaration mainly focuses on conflicts and tensions in the region and cooperation beyond the expansion of China’s influence, he said. Better US-Cambodia relations are possible, but not without improved human rights, including the release of jailed opposition supporters, he added.
In a speech following the Sunnylands talks, Obama said he had made clear that “the United States will continue to stand with those across Southeast Asia who are working to advance rule of law, good governance, accountable institutions and the universal human rights of all people.”