Cambodia slams ‘disrespectful’ U.S. Embassy in latest diplomatic row

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn at the ASEAN-Australia ministerial meeting, part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional security forum in Manila on August 6, 2017 (AFP)

Foreign ministry considers US embassy's latest remark 'undiplomatic and disrespectful' 

PHNOM PENH--The Cambodian government has slammed the U.S. Embassy for being “disrespectful” to the host country following the latter’s recent statement marking the first anniversary of last year’s general election from which the main opposition party was banned from competing against the ruling party.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the U.S. Embassy statement, which the letter posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday, was “slanderous and undiplomatic”as it violated the United Nations Charter and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.  

“It is with great surprise and disappointment to note another undiplomatic and disrespectful behavior of the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh toward Cambodia as the host country,” Ket Sophann, the ministry’s spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy, in its Facebook  statement, described the July 2018 general election as “neither free nor fair.” 

“It failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people,” the statement said. 

“The elections excluded the country’s principle opposition party and further eroded the country’s achievements in promoting political reconciliation and economic growth since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords,” it added.

It also called for democracy in Cambodia to be restored, former opposition leader Kem Sokha to be released from house arrest, and all charges against former opposition members to be dropped.

The Cambodian government, the statement said, must also end “the practice of using baseless, politically motived charges to harass its citizens.”   

Ket Sophann, the Cambodian foreign affairs ministry’s spokesman, said the embassy’s statement is not helpful to the efforts of both countries to improve bilateral ties.   

“The Embassy’s repetitive slanderous actions not only run counter to the ongoing efforts with good faith of the Cambodian government in seeking to improve all-round relationship with the U.S., but also raise question on the former’s sincerity in its dealing with Cambodia as the host country,” he said. 

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