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US, Cambodia Set To Mark 60 Years of Diplomacy

Hem Heng, left, Cambodian US Ambassador to Washington alongside with Tea Banh, Minister of Defense, in a pagoda in Maryland.

The embassy in Washington will mark 60 years of diplomatic relations with the US on Friday, with celebrations scheduled in Cambodia in weeks ahead.

The Cambodian Embassy has invited 200 guests and dignitaries for a performance of traditional dance and a live concert Friday, the Ambassador Hem Heng told VOA Khmer.

In Cambodia, the US Embassy is hosting a week of activities starting from July 18. On that day, the Pacific Fleet Marine Band will play a concert at Chaktomuk Hall in Phnom Penh, followed by another performance in Battambang town on July 20.

The award-winning “New Year Baby,” produced by Socheata Poeuv, will play July 19 at Chenla Theater in Phnom Penh. On July 21 and July 22, the government and US embassy are co-sponsoring a discussion of former ambassadors and historians that will be open to the public on both days. And on July 24, the embassy will host a public dance recital of “Seasons of Migration,” by master dancer Sophiline Shapiro, at Chaktomuk Hall.

The celebrations are part of a continued program to mark diplomatic dealings that have not always been smooth. The US was behind a coup that ousted then prince Norodom Sihanouk and preceded the rise of the Khmer Rouge. It also undertook a secret bombing campaign during the Vietnam War.

Relations between the two countries have improved in recent years, with the resumption of direct aid and the lifting of Cambodia from a trade blacklist, following soured relations in the aftermath of the 1997 coup d’etat.