Op-ed: Minister Reaches Out to Two Koreas, Shows Cambodia’s Friendly Foreign Policy

AKP Phnom Penh, September 03, 2020 —

Experiences have no value, good or bad, like those Cambodia experienced in the 1970s and 1980s, unless we use them to build firm foundations to move forward and develop the nation. Those lessons inform the country’s foreign policy decisions under the great leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

It is a simple enough policy: keep old friends and build new friendships. The government welcomed friends from all corners of the world who want to make friend with Cambodia. Those relationships must be based on equal footing, a level playing field and mutual respect. Cambodia’s richness of heart is there.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Hun Sen made that point when he talked to Cambodian students and workers on the sidelines of his visit to South Korea: “I advised Cambodian diplomats as well as officials at every level to make political decisions – domestic and foreign – based on national interest, and to stand on a position of independence to make decisions on external policies”.

The Premier’s instruction reflected the two meetings on the September 1, 2020, when H.E. Dr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, received H.E. Ambassador Dr. Park Heung-kyeong, of the Republic of Korea (RoK), at the ministry.

Next day, the Minister received the Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) H.E. Jan Yun Gon.

The Royal Government of Cambodia sees countries near and far as friends and welcomes social and peaceful cooperation for the well-being of the Cambodian people and contributing to global peace and development.

In this respect, H.E. Minister welcomed the RoK’s ambassador’s support for the distance education programme. Cambodia’s Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) reported: “The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has expressed the willingness to support Cambodia with the provision of distance education programmes, especially to include students in far-flung communities”.

Bilateral cooperation with South Korea will enable Cambodia students, whose classes closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, to access education online, as well as accessing global information needed for their education in the future.

Cambodia’s government is also increasing investment in the education sector, because any development needs human resources, among other elements.

Assistance from South Korea will contribute to narrowing the gap in the quality of education between those in remote and urban area.

AKP quoted H.E. Ambassador of South Korea saying that it is important to balance distance education access between the students in urban and rural areas.

For the DPRK (North Korea), H.E. Jan Yun Gon proposed to H.E. Minister Dr. Khieu Kahnarith a high-level visit exchange, post-Covid-19 crisis, in the information sector as part of enhancement of bilateral cooperation.

Cambodia welcomed the proposal and asked the North Korean side to continue its cooperation with the AKP by providing news articles and photos related to the development and progress of DPRK to publish in Kambuja Magazine.

H.E. Dr. Khieu Kahnarith who is well-known to the foreign correspondents, who call him “KK”, and this week he received whole-heatedly the two Korean ambassadors, including South Korea, and North Korea.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has signed some Memoranda of Understanding, MoUs, separately with the two Korean governments in the fields of information, culture and social cooperation, along with maintaining good diplomatic relations.

But Cambodia never stops dreaming of seeing the two Koreas unified.

Cambodia’s government wants to see the divided Korean nations to resume their dialogue to resolve their differences through peaceful means and to bring about a unified Korea free of nuclear threat.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly said, including his statement in early 2020 that, “it is true that we could not avoid respecting the U.N. resolution concerning North Korea. We had no choice. It is the U.N. resolution that we must respect”.

“However, we also continue normal relations with the North. We do not make enemy of North Korea. Along with this, we insist on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and settlement through negotiation. Whether it be a negotiation between North Korea and the U.S., North Korea and South Korea, or the multilateral negotiation, are all by peaceful means,” said the Premier.

By Ek Tha

Spokesman of the Council of Ministers,

Advisor to the Ministry of Information,

Standing-Vice Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit