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Duterte reaffirms PH-Cambodia ties, friendship

/ 10:58 AM December 15, 2016
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, toasts with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a signing ceremony at the Peace Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. Duterte is on a state visit to Cambodia, where a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen will bring together two Southeast Asian leaders known for their tough-guy approach to governing. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) toasts with Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen during a signing ceremony at the Peace Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. Duterte was on a two-day state visit to Cambodia, where the meeting with Hun Sen brought together two Southeast Asian leaders known for their tough-guy approach to governance. AP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The friendship between the Philippines and Cambodia could withstand regional and international challenges, President Duterte said here as the two countries reaffirmed their long-standing ties with his state visit. 

 

Mr. Duterte thanked Cambodian leaders for the warm welcome given him and his delegation on his two-day trip during a banquet hosted by King Norodom Sihamoni on Wednesday evening.

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The President said he was “humbled and honored” and added that the two countries’ renewal and reaffirmation of their relationship augured well for future bilateral relations.

READ: King of Cambodia meets with Duterte despite religious retreat

“My visit to Cambodia has impressed upon me that ours is a friendship based on mutual respect and support,” Mr. Duterte said at the banquet.

The friendship, he said, is one with a commitment to a shared future. 

 

“It is a friendship that can withstand the challenges of an evolving regional and international environment,” he added. 

 

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The President did not mention the South China Sea dispute in his message, but Cambodia earlier blocked attempts to mention the Philippines’ international tribunal victory against Beijing in a statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“My visit to Cambodia has impressed upon me that ours is a friendship based on mutual respect and support,” Mr. Duterte said at the banquet.

 

Cambodia is a staunch ally of China.

 

The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration has invalidated Beijing’s claim to nearly the whole of the South China Sea.

 

Mr. Duterte also said at the banquet that as close neighbors, the Philippines and Cambodia have a common stake in keeping ASEAN “strong, relevant, and responsive.” 

 

He said this was especially critical when forces were shaping the regional architecture and equation. 

 

The two countries must work together to seek innovative ways to bring prosperity to the region, and to make ASEAN a cohesive and vibrant community, he added. 

“As we face a future that is increasingly interlinked, we draw upon our common historic experiences to help chart a path toward greater peace, progress, and prosperity enjoyed by our people,” he said.

 

The Philippines is counting on Cambodia’s “active support” when it chairs the Asean summit next year, which will also be the bloc’s 50th anniversary, he said.

 

Mr. Duterte said he was committed to using bilateral agreements and platforms to move cooperation between the countries forward.

 

“As we face a future that is increasingly interlinked, we draw upon our common historic experiences to help chart a path toward greater peace, progress, and prosperity enjoyed by our people,” he said.

 

The Philippines and Cambodia signed four agreements on transnational crime, sports cooperation, tourism, and labor cooperation during the President’s state visit.

“We were rewarded by our Cambodian brothers and sisters with kindness and care,” he said.

 

Mr. Duterte noted that ties between the Philippines and Cambodia have been improving over the years, with regular exchanges of visits between their officials to forge closer links and bilateral trade.

 

An increasing number of Filipino companies have been seizing business opportunities in Cambodia.

 

The countries have also drawn together during trying times, with the Philippines providing assistance in building capacities for law enforcement and securing holy places in Cambodia, he said.

 

The Philippines also helped build communities and was involved in rural electrification, as well as education and sports programs. 

 

“We were rewarded by our Cambodian brothers and sisters with kindness and care,” he said.

 

During his two-day trip to Phnom Penh, Mr. Duterte had an audience with the King at the Royal Palace, where he was given arrival honors.

 

He also had a tete-a-tete and an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen. They discussed ways to work together to address the illegal drug and crime problems and also tackled defense cooperation.

 

The leaders also discussed plans to hold a trade fair between the Philippines and Cambodia, as well as the establishment of direct flights between Manila and Phnom Penh.

 

The talked about technology transfer from the Philippines’ International Rice Research Institute to improve rice seeds, as well as the construction of 100 percent Filipino-owned rice warehouses in Cambodia.

 

There are also plans to offer Philippine scholarships for Cambodians, particularly in science and engineering courses. 

 

Hun Sen, a fan of boxing superstar Sen. Manny Paqcuiao, also personally asked him to assist Cambodia in its “traffic information drive.” Pacquiao is hugely popular in Cambodia. 

 

Cambodia earlier this year began implementing its new traffic law that is meant to address the high death toll in the country’s roads. CBB

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TAGS: ASEAN, Cambodia, China, Features, Hun Sen, Norodom Sihamoni, Rodrigo Duterte
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