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King of Cambodia meets with Duterte despite religious retreat

/ 03:15 PM December 14, 2016
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (2nd R) walks with Cambodia's Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith (3rd R) after paying respect to a statue of the late king Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh on December 14, 2016. Duterte is on a two-day state visit to Cambodia. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN Sothy

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte (2nd R) walks with Cambodia’s Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith (3rd R) after paying respect to a statue of the late king Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh on December 14, 2016. Duterte is on a two-day state visit to Cambodia. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN Sothy

Phnom Penh— King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia made an exception and took time out of a retreat to meet President Duterte at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.

Yasay said the Philippines was grateful that the king came to receive Mr. Duterte despite Wednesday being a Buddhist holiday in Cambodia.

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“The holiday is intended to honor the saints of their faith and the King is one of the saints of Cambodia, on account of which he normally is supposed to be in retreat. But he took this as an exception to meet with our President, whom he considers as a very important person,” Yasay told reporters here.

He also said the Philippine government only asked that Mr. Duterte’s trop be a working visit, but Cambodia decided to make it a state visit.

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The King received Mr. Duterte upon his arrival at the Royal Palace on Wednesday morning.

The Philippine President was given arrival honors, and the two leaders trooped the line together. Philippine flags flew alongside the Cambodian flag at the palace gardens.

The Cambodian band played the Philippine national anthem.

After the arrival ceremony, Mr. Duterte and the King proceeded to the throne hall.

Mr. Duterte comported himself well, said Yasay.

“We had earlier a bilateral meeting with His Royal Majesty and you see the king of Cambodia is a very cultured person, very intelligent, very regal, very elegant, well respected by the people and I was personally amazed by the fact that our President had measured up to this very important occasion,” he said.

Mr. Duterte was “very regal, very elegant, and very gentle insofar as his engagements with His Royal Majesty this morning.”

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Before the President’s arrival at the Royal Palace, Cambodian students waving Philippine flags and carrying pictures of Mr. Duterte lined the streets.

After meeting the King, Mr. Duterte visited the Independence Memorial and at the monument of the father of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihanouk, to lay wreaths and pay his respects.  JE

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TAGS: Cambodia, King, Norodom Sihamoni, Rodrigo Duterte, visit
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