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US Seeking Stronger Ties With Cambodia


FILE - U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel gestures during a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 4, 2013.

FILE - U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel gestures during a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 4, 2013.

A senior U.S. diplomat says the country is looking to strengthen ties with Cambodia following an end to the nation's yearlong political stalemate.

Scot Marciel, the State Department’s leading diplomat for Southeast Asia, told VOA Khmer in an interview Wednesday that Washington wants to have a good relationship with the people of Cambodia.

“We have an interest in a Cambodia that is successful, democratic, more prosperous, enjoying good health and good education," said Marciel. "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 U.S. has made a recent diplomatic push in Asia, where China’s influence continues to grow. But Marciel said Wednesday the U.S. is “not focused on what China is doing here.”

“We’re really focused on what we can do, how we can build a relationship with the people and the nation of Cambodia, a closer relationship," he said.

Cambodia suffered a nearly yearlong political deadlock following 2013 elections that the opposition said were marred by fraud.

A political deal last month led to an end of the opposition 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 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 U.S. 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.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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