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US Must Show Commitment Toward Asia, Former Ambassador Says

Sichan Siv, former ambassador to the US and the UN.
Sichan Siv, former ambassador to the US and the UN.
WASHINGTON DC - US President Barack Obama should have attended two regional summits in Asia this week to show the US’s commitment to a so-called “pivot,” a former Cambodian ambassador says.

Speaking to VOA Khmer by telephone on Tuesday, Sichan Siv, a former ambassador to the US and the UN, said he understands that the White House and Congress are in a deadlock over the budget, but he said the president’s presence at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asean summits would have been an important political symbol.

“If the Obama Administration is talking about the pivot toward Asia, then they really need to show that it’s really a pivot that they are talking about,” he said.

Former US president George H. Bush clearly understood the importance of Asia, saying in a 1991 speech that the next century would belong to the US and the Pacific, Sichan Siv said. That’s because the economic futures of the US and Asian-Pacific countries are tied together, he said.

The US has a long history with Asia, including World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, he said. It must now work together with China and other countries, including those of Asean and their 600 million people, he said.