Prime Minister Hun Sen and new Pakistani ambassador to Cambodia Zaheeruddin Babar Thaheem agreed to elevate relations and cooperation between the two nations to another level.

The pledge came during a meeting between Hun Sen and Thaheem on March 22 at the Peace palace in Phnom Penh, where the premier also requested that Pakistan continue providing scholarships to Cambodian students, according to a post on Hun Sen’s official Facebook page.

“Thaheem informed Prime Minister Hun Sen that Pakistan considers Cambodia an important partner. His diplomatic mission to Cambodia will continue all existing activities and he intends to do everything possible to promote relations in all fields in order to strengthen and expand the relationship between the two,” said the post.

“The prime minister also thanked the Pakistani government for providing scholarships to Cambodian students and requested that Pakistan continue them,” it added.

Hun Sen asked Thaheem to examine the potential for increased economic, trade and investment cooperation, suggesting that they would complement each other. He also encouraged the new ambassador to contribute to the 70-year relationship between the two countries.

Hun Sen told Thaheem that within its role as ASEAN chair, what Cambodia wanted was the reopening of the economy while learning to live with Covid-19.

During the meeting, Thaheem also noted the rapid development of Cambodia, saying he has observed it first-hand since he assumed his new role. He admired the friendliness of the people, and was grateful for the cooperation of the Kingdom’s civil servants.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi plans to visit Cambodia this year, with the aim of further enhancing relations between the two countries.

Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn expressed his desire to open a Cambodian embassy in Pakistan in the future and discussed the possibility with Thaheem about two weeks ago.

“It was a very engaging and positive discussion around working towards the common goal of strengthening the relationship between our nations,” Thaheem tweeted after his meeting with Sokhonn on March 10.

After presenting his credentials to King Norodom Sihamoni in February, Thaheem tweeted that he looked forward to working towards further deepening the strong Cambodia-Pakistan friendship.

Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, said that in its economic diplomacy policy, Cambodia is seeking to diversify its economy by building relationships with many countries around the world. This includes maintaining “old friends” and expanding “new friends”.

“In this sense, strengthening relations and cooperation with Pakistan will benefit both sides economically,” he told The Post.