News / Asia

    Kerry Focuses on Human Rights, Trade During Cambodia Visit

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is welcomed by Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 26, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is welcomed by Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 26, 2016.
    Pamela Dockins

    Human rights concerns and bilateral trade have been focal points for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who held a series of meetings with officials in Cambodia Tuesday.

    Kerry said progress for Cambodia in the areas of human rights, universal freedoms and good governance is “critical” in order “to fulfill the potential” of bilateral relations with the U.S.

    He commented to reporters in a lush outdoor courtyard after holding separate talks with officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cambodian acting opposition party leader Kem Sokha.

    “Democratic governments have a responsibility to ensure that all elected representatives are free to perform their responsibilities without fear of attack or arrest,” said Kerry, who emphasized that he raised human rights concerns during his talks with officials.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Cambodian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong before a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 26, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Cambodian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong before a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 26, 2016.

    There is ongoing concern about Cambodia's efforts to ensure democratic and human rights reforms.

    With opposition leader Sam Rainsy in self-imposed exile to avoid what is widely considered to be politically motivated charges, and 17 opposition members and activists in prison, rights groups say any improved diplomatic ties must be accompanied with Cambodian guarantees for reform.

    Kerry also praised Cambodia for its economic progress.

    "Cambodia has experienced remarkable growth," said Kerry to the prime minister as they headed into talks. "You have seen incredible changes, not just here in Phnom Penh, which moved from a 350,000 person war-torn city to a much more modern city of 2.2 million people."

    Hun Sen told Kerry that he considers next month's U.S.-hosted special ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit a "step forward for the strategic partnership" between the U.S. and ASEAN countries.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses Cambodian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong at the outset of a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 26, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses Cambodian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong at the outset of a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 26, 2016.

    One of the focal points during the summit, in California, will be addressing the “urgent challenge” of countering violent extremism, said Kerry. He added that Prime Minister Hun expressed an interest in working with the anti-Islamic State group coalition.

    Cambodia is the second leg of Kerry’s swing through Asia, which also included a stop in Laos.

    From Cambodia, Kerry travels to China where he will press Beijing to use its leverage to exert pressure on North Korea for what it said was a successful nuclear test. He is also expected to raise U.S. concerns about the ongoing maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

    Earlier Tuesday, Kerry visited the National Museum of Cambodia, home to one of the world's most extensive collections of Khmer cultural material.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Khemra from: Battambang
    February 01, 2016 12:45 AM
    It's hard to read some ignorant comments from some tourists or travelers in Cambodia written about how wonderful Cambodia is. May be for their trips. I agree that Cambodia was beautiful but not now. They probably have had a wonderful journey in Cambodia but they should have learn more about cambodia's daily life in many other corners.

    by: Peter from: Phnom Penh
    January 26, 2016 2:16 PM
    Kerry is completely short-sided and know nothing about this hell Cambodia and the Vietnamese puppet TRAITOR Hun SEN. Kerry dares calls Phnom Penh a modern city! Does he know that one whole of Phnom Penh, khan Mean Chey is worse than a rural area with NO STREET but just NON-PAVED, NON ILLUMINATED RURAL ROADS WITHOUT SIDE-WALK and ESPECIALLY these RURAL roads have NO NAME, NO NUMBER. And ALL HOMES in that khan have NO NUMBER, SO the residents in that khan HAVE NO ADDRESS. Moreover, Cambodia has NO POSTAL CODE NOR ZIP CODE. This is like all Cambodians have no address! Wow, MODERN CITY?????

    by: AN PHAM from: LAX
    January 26, 2016 11:14 AM
    In Yahoo News!!! The comments said that the Cambodian people was not monkeys, and did not worshipping White Jesus. But All of the Hunsen's Cabinets Worshipping yellow devil in A-50 everyday when the Vietnamese invaded this country then 1985 Mr. Hunsen had been built from yellow devil of A-50. Are you knew that. Yes you had never been knew it....

    by: Al
    January 26, 2016 6:23 AM
    I am in Cambodia right now traveling for two months. I have traveled a lot of developing countries and Cambodia has spent it money well and treats its people good. I am amazed at the infrastructure, the new government office buildings, the shopping centers and the highway construction.

    The people are optimistic and everybody seems to be working. I am in a small fishing on the coast 3 hours south of Phnom Penh, the roads are good, the beaches clean and the tourist business is booming. Cambodia is spending wisely and building toward the future.
    In Response

    by: Peter from: Phnom Penh
    January 26, 2016 3:02 PM
    Al, do you know HOW MANY people this cruel ,crude and ignorant dictator-traitor Hun Sen has killed since he has been in power for more than 3 decades now? NOT much LESS than Pol POT! Do you also know HOW MANY BILLIONS US Dollar this criminal has amassed from selling all types of Cambodia's properties such as land - not just land inside the country but on eastern border too and so Cambodia's area shrinks every day - forest, and so on etc... Do you know that all Hun Sen's associates are all multimillionaires in US Dollar? Please Al, take more time to learn about this MASTER MAGICIAN!!!
    In Response

    by: ROBERT BRAND from: Phnom Penh/Cambodia
    January 26, 2016 8:09 AM
    Two months are not sufficient to discover the real Cambodia. The Prime Minister is here more than 30 years. That means what it does mean. The opposition was muzzled . The democrats beaten and thrown into prison. And it is not finished.

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