On a recent trip to Cambodia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his hope that Cambodia "will realize the full benefits of a thriving, multiparty democracy." The U.S. he said, "care[s] deeply about respect for human rights, universal freedoms, and good governance. And progress in each of these areas is really critical to being able to fulfill the potential of our bilateral relations but also importantly, the full potential of the hopes and aspirations of the Cambodian people."
In his discussions with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Secretary Kerry further stressed that “Democratic governments have a responsibility to ensure that all elected representatives are free to perform their responsibilities without fear of attack or arrest." This includes opposition party leader Sam Rainsy who was forced into exile after the government called for his arrest for allegedly defaming foreign minister Hor Namhong.
So as Cambodians prepare for elections next year and again in 2018, it is very important to allow for vigorous but peaceful debate.
The U.S. remains interested in developing its economic relationship with Cambodia. Indeed, the United States is Cambodia’s largest single-country export market today. Last November both countries held their first Competitiveness and Growth Dialogue. "Now," said Secretary Kerry, "we look forward to trade and investment framework agreement talks that will take place soon. And we will continue to explore ways to deepen our trade and investment relationship including by helping to tackle corruption and exploring ways to strengthen Cambodia’s legal institutions." To that end, the United States looks forward to welcoming Cambodia to the U.S. ASEAN summit in February.
A threat of common concern to both the U.S. and Cambodia is countering violent extremism. Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed interest in Cambodia working with the U.S.-led coalition against DAESH.
The U.S. also cooperates with Cambodia on other issues including health and food security, and mine clearance. There are active Fulbright and Peace Corps Programs on the ground in Cambodia. And the U.S. continues to help with sustainable development in the Mekong River region.
The U.S. remains deeply committed to its partnership with Cambodia and with all the member of ASEAN on a regional and global basis.