Two senior British diplomats are paying a two-day official visit aiming to build stronger ties with Cambodia, which holds the chairmanship of ASEAN for 2022, according to the UK embassy in Phnom Penh.
UK ambassador to ASEAN Jon Lambe and Joelle Jenny – director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific at Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – will be meeting several secretaries of state from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Commerce, and ASEAN Senior economic officials.
“The UK is delighted to be the first new Dialogue Partner to ASEAN in 25 years. This partnership will allow us to work more closely with Cambodia and other ASEAN Member States on shared challenges such as trade, investment, climate change, the environment, science and technology, and education,” said Lambe.
“My trip to Cambodia this week demonstrates our commitment to this partnership. I look forward to demonstrating the UK’s support for Cambodia’s ASEAN chairmanship and working with Cambodia to tackle some of the region’s biggest challenges; whether building back better from Covid-19 or dealing with the impact of climate change,” he added.
The UK embassy said that a strong UK-ASEAN relationship is a critical part of their global engagement, foreign policy and Indo-Pacific Tilt.
Jenny said that the UK was committed to their relationship with Cambodia. She said she was delighted to be visiting the country again.
“Cambodia will be a vital partner for the UK as we increase our engagement with the region, and we want to deepen and expand our ties. Cambodia also has an important role to play as chair of ASEAN this year, and the UK, in our first year as an ASEAN dialogue partner, is committed to supporting Cambodia’s chairmanship,” she said.
Lambe tweeted on April 4 that he had met with Sok Chenda, secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), to talk about development opportunities and challenges in Cambodia and ASEAN. The talk also touched on UK’s accelerated Covid-19 Economic Support programme.
Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, said this visit would strengthen and lift the bilateral relations between ASEAN and the UK.
“From a political aspect, the UK wants to see ASEAN as a stable centre for the region, and the UK would like to be an important part of the Indo-Pacific region after leaving the EU,” he said.
The visit also helps Cambodia diversify its political and market links with the world.
“The UK is a great source of support in human resource development and grants scholarships that let students get the benefits of its world-class educational system,” he added.