PHNOM PENH —
A senior US diplomat says the country is looking to strengthen ties with Cambodia.
“We want to have a good relationship with the nation of Cambodia, the people of Cambodia,” Scot Marciel, the US State Department’s leading diplomat for the Asia and Pacific region, told VOA Khmer in an interview Wednesday. “We have an interest in a Cambodia that is successful, democratic, more prosperous, enjoying good health and good education. This is mostly up to the Cambodian people, but we want to be supportive because it’s in our interest for Cambodia to be successful.”
The US has made a recent diplomatic push in Asia, where China’s influence continues to grow. Marciel said Wednesday the US is “not focused on what China is doing here.”
“We’re really focused on what we can do,” he said. “How we can build a relationship with the people and the nation of Cambodia, a closer relationship?”
For its part Cambodia suffered a nearly yearlong political deadlock following 2013 elections the Cambodia National Rescue Party says were marred by fraud.
A political deal last month led to an end of the Rescue Party’s boycott of the Assembly and has opened space for negotiations on electoral and democratic reforms.
Marciel, who was on a three-day trip to the country as part of a visit to several Asean nations, met with Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. No details were made available about their meeting. Still, Marciel said Wednesday that Cambodia’s moves toward reforms are encouraging.
“The people here have made it clear that they would like to see some more reforms, some progress on some of the challenges that Cambodia faces, and we feel the same way,” he said. “We are hopeful that the government and the parliament, now that it is seated, can move ahead on some of the reforms that people here have called for. We think that would be a positive step.”
The US would like to see continued reform over the National Election Committee, he said, as well as renewed efforts to battle corruption and improve governance, the judicial system and the country’s human rights record.
For full English script of interview, click here.