US Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy welcomed Prime Minister Hun Sen to the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh in a move that aims to strengthen bilateral relations into 2023.
On December 24, the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia posted photographs of Ambassador Murphy welcoming the Cambodian premier and his delegation of senior advisors to the embassy and showing them around the grounds.
“With a view to the new year, Ambassador Murphy and the Prime Minister discussed ways to improve the bilateral relationship. We look forward to a productive 2023 and continued efforts to strengthen friendships between the American and Cambodian people,” the Facebook post said.
It added that the United States has welcomed Cambodia’s leadership of ASEAN during a year of “global and political challenges”, and appreciates the Kingdom’s support for the historic U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit in Washington D.C., which took place in May and was attended by Hun Sen.
The post also gave appreciation to Cambodia for its advocacy for the newly-elevated U.S.-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and for hosting US President Joe Biden during November’s ASEAN Summit.
President Biden landed in Phnom Penh on November 12 to take part in the series of summits. He also met with Hun Sen to discuss a raft of issues, including the situation in Myanmar and Cambodia’s 2023 general elections.
“We welcome Cambodia’s stance to uphold the UN Charter, defend territorial integrity, and co-sponsor UN resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the post added.
According to the US Embassy’s website, in the last 30 years, the United States has donated $3 billion in foreign assistance in the areas of health, education, food security, economic growth, national reconciliation, democracy and human rights, the environment, and the clearance of unexploded ordnance and landmines.
In 2021, Cambodian exports to the US totalled $8.7 billion, while US imports to Cambodia amounted to $414 million. US exports accounted for more than 40 percent of Cambodia’s total exports, with the apparel, footwear and travel goods sector making up the bulk.
However, in July, the US downgraded Cambodia to Tier 3 in its annual ‘Trafficking in Persons’ report. It cited continuing labour and sex trafficking of Cambodians, as well as rising reports of foreigners being trafficked into the country to work in online fraud and gambling operations.