The Foreign Affairs Ministry used a meeting with top Canadian diplomats on Friday to request that the country resume aid to Cam*bodia, four years after Otta*wa’s last development programs ended.
Canada reopened a tiny Phnom Penh diplomatic office in December, after closing its embassy in 2009, saying at the time that it hoped to strengthen trade and dip*lomatic relations with Cambodia.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion leaves the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Phnom Penh on Friday after a meeting in which Cambodian officials asked Canada to resume aid for mine clearance and climate change mitigation projects. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)On Friday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion met with his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn, and Prime Minister Hun Sen as part of a seven-day diplomatic junket to Cambodia and Vietnam.
The meeting between Mr. So*khonn and Mr. Dion “strengthened the cooperation between Cam*bodia and Canada,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Soun**ry told reporters afterward.
“His Excellency the Minister of Cambodia requested Canada provide funds for preventing the im*pact of climate change, and for clearing mines in Cambodia,” he said.
Mr. Sounry said Canada had not provided aid to Cambodia since it wrapped up its last round of assistance programs in 2012. That aid included funding for election reform, demining, agriculture and food security projects, and for the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
As part of Friday’s meeting, “the Canadian government promised to give funds to clear mines in Cambodia,” the spokesman said, later adding that the Canadians had also agreed to give an unspecified amount to climate change mitigation efforts.
The two countries are also work*ing to reach an agreement on trade and investment, Mr. Sounry said.
“At present, the CDC is reviewing a draft of the agreement,” he said, referring to the Council for the Development of Cambodia.
Canadian officials did not im*mediately respond to requests for com*ment on Friday’s meeting.
Cambodian Mine Action Center director-general Heng Ratana said on Friday that the Canadians had in the past donated at least $1 million annually to his organization.
“We noticed that when they finished their funding for Cambodia, our ability to carry out demining projects decreased,” he said.
In 2009, Canada scaled back aid to Cambodia and folded the operations of its embassy into its Bangkok branch, ostensibly for the purpose of refocusing its foreign affairs efforts on India, Ma*laysia and other developing countries.
It has not had an ambassador to Cambodia since 2007.
odom@cambodiadaily.com
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