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Singapore commits to closer ties

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Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomes Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday. SPM

Singapore commits to closer ties

Cambodia and Singapore reiterated their commitment to deepening long-term relations between the two countries, while also agreeing to urge the Myanmar military to fully and expeditiously implement the ASEAN five-point consensus (5PC).

The affirmation came at a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan on February 16, where the two also discussed topics including trade and the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Honoured to call on Prime Minister Hun Sen today. We reaffirmed Singapore and Cambodia’s long-standing ties [and] I congratulated PM Hun Sen on Cambodia’s successful management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two years,” Balakrishnan tweeted after the meeting.

“PM Hun Sen and I agreed that current arrangements for Myanmar to be represented at non-political level at ASEAN meetings should continue. Myanmar military authorities need to swiftly and fully implement [the] Five-Point Consensus.

“ASEAN’s full agenda should not be held hostage by [the] situation in Myanmar,” he added.

Hun Sen thanked Singapore for its continued support and boosting of bilateral cooperation, as well as the city-state’s support for Cambodia during its chairmanship of ASEAN.

The premier added that he “encourage[d] more investment in Cambodia and boosting of trade between the two countries. [We also] looked at possible cooperation in education, health and a number of other sectors,” he said in a Facebook post after the meeting.

He said Balakrishnan also congratulated him on his success in curbing the spread of Covid-19 in the Kingdom, pointing out Cambodia’s high vaccination rate, and saying that it had lower death rates than those of many developed countries.

Hun Sen said the high vaccination rates were the main factor that had enabled Cambodia to reopen the country quickly, and thanked Singapore for considering the Kingdom a safe enough destination to restart air travel with.

He also brought up the topic of Singaporean investors, who he claimed were interested in investing in Cambodia – especially in the field of trade, warehousing and frozen goods transportation.

Hun Sen also reiterated the purpose of his visit to Myanmar in early January, saying he had hoped to achieve a number of things including reducing violence through the “ceasefire”, establishing dialogue, and finding ways to deliver “non-discriminatory” humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.

He said Balakrishnan also congratulated him on receiving the Sunhak Peace Prize, saying this was a significant recognition not only in Cambodia or in the region, but all over the world.

Balakrishnan arrived in Cambodia to attend the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat from February 15-17.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Balakrishnan’s visit to the Kingdom would further strengthen and deepen the close relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Balakrishnan also had a separate meeting with foreign minister Prak Sokhonn on February 16, when both discussed at length the subject of trade and investment cooperation. The two ministers urged their respective countries’ relevant ministries and agencies to redouble their efforts at further cooperation.

Sokhonn also encouraged a trade balance between the two countries through several means. He proposed an increase in the export of Cambodian agricultural products to Singapore; the establishment of a memorandum of understanding for a chamber of commerce between the two countries, and the implementation of the Avoidance of Double Taxation agreement, which minimises the double taxation of income flows arising from cross-border business activities.

The foreign ministers also touched on a number of topics of common interest.

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