Cambodia, Australia Talk Aid in Refugee Negotiations

Cambodian officials met Wednesday with Australian Ambassador Alison Burrows and visiting Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade Keith Scott to discuss Australia’s financial assistance plans for the country over the next few years, state news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) reported Thursday.

Chheang Yanara, a delegate minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said after the meeting that Australia was preparing its development assistance plan for Cambodia for 2015 to 2018 “in order to respond to the country’s new development context,” according to AKP.

Contacted Thursday, Mr. Yanara declined to talk about the meeting and the Australian Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

The meeting comes amid secret negotiations between the two countries on a pending plan that would see Cambodia resettle asylum seekers Australia is currently holding offshore.

Neither country will comment on the details, but Australia is expected to handsomely compensate Cambodia in return for taking in the refugees.

peter@cambodiadaily.com, reaksmey@cambodiadaily.com

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