Updated May 24th, 2024 at 21:17 IST

US Defence Secretary to Visit Cambodia to Woo the Nation Away From China

In Cambodia, Austin is set to meet with Prime Minister Hun Manet, who took office in August 2023, succeeding his father, Hun Sen.

Reported by: Sagar Kar
Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin | Image:(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
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Next month, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to visit Cambodia as part of an initiative to strengthen relations with the country's new leadership and reduce its reliance on China. Austin's visit to Phnom Penh will take place on June 4, following his participation in the Shangri-La Dialogue defense forum in Singapore. At the forum, he will discuss challenges in the Indo-Pacific region with US allies and partners and hold his first meeting with China's defense minister, Dong Jun.

According to a report from the Financial Times, in Cambodia, Austin is set to meet with Prime Minister Hun Manet, who took office in August 2023, succeeding his father, Hun Sen. 

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The current PM studied in US

Hun Manet, who has studied in the United States at the prestigious West Point military academy and New York University, represents a new generation of Cambodian leaders. Washington is optimistic that his background might make Cambodia more inclined to strengthen its cooperation with the US.

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“We remain clear-eyed about some of our concerns in Cambodia, but at the same time we see the arrival of the new leadership allowing us to explore new opportunities,” said one US official.

The US hopes that engaging with Hun Manet and the new Cambodian administration will pave the way for improved bilateral relations and reduce the country's heavy dependence on China. Austin's visit is seen as a strategic move to reinforce these efforts.

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Published May 24th, 2024 at 21:17 IST