King Norodom Sihamoni is paying a formal visit to France from November 12 to 18, following an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron. The King is scheduled to attend the Fourth Inter-Governmental Conference for the Safeguarding and Development of Angkor, which will be held in Paris, during the 42nd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO.

Several government leaders, including members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the advisor to the Supreme Council of the King, travelled to Phnom Penh International Airport to bid him farewell.

Prime Minister Hun Manet took to social media to share details of the trip.

“Several government delegates and I saw the King off at the airport. The King will attend the 4th Intergovernmental Conference for the safeguarding and the development of Angkor, during the 42nd session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France,” he said. 

In a November 10 press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that the King was accompanied by Sok Chenda Sophea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, as well as other dignitaries and senior representatives of the Cambodian government.

The release explained that the historic visit is anchored in the spirit of long-standing relations of friendship between Cambodia and France, and follows the November 9 celebrations which marked the 70th anniversary of the independence of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The King will be received by Macron at the Élysée Presidential Palace for official talks on November 13, and will then grace the Fourth Inter-Governmental Conference for the Safeguarding and Development of Angkor, during the 42nd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, on November 15.

Thong Mengdavid, research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said on November 12 that Cambodia and France have historically had close relations, with cultural, artistic and human factors being the foundation of cooperation between the two countries. The King has played a pivotal role in these relations, he added.

“The King’s trip to France enhances national prestige. It will promote Cambodia’s culture and civilisation to the world, and make more countries aware of our unique qualities. Cambodia and France have focused their attention on building an international community that is filled with peace, excellent cooperation and respect for international law,” he said.

He noted that the King will also grant an audience to the French president, which will foster cooperation between the two countries in the sectors of health, human resource development, technology and innovation, the economy and investment, as well as cultural and conservation exchanges.

“All of these factors will enhance the Kingdom’s cultural economic diplomacy, and provide many benefits to Cambodian society,” he said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, believed the King’s trip to France will contribute to strengthening the relationship between Cambodia and France. The trip was also a testament to the current excellent relations.

He explained that the two nations have always cooperated well, and were able to depend on one another, especially regarding bilateral tasks.

“The relationship between Cambodia and France is indispensable, especially as Cambodia is a member of the UN. This connection is important, as France also plays a core role in the UN,” he added.

Vong Daravady