Cambodia’s Status for US Military Aid Hazy

The US announced Tues­day it will cut off military assistance to 35 countries that did not meet a Tuesday deadline to agree to exempt US nationals from the Inter­national Criminal Court.

Since Cambodia signed onto the agreement on Friday, it was not included on the list of 35 countries, Heide Bronke, spokeswo­man for the US Embassy, said Wednesday. But the country was not granted a waiver either, making it unclear whether it is liable for the suspension of military aid.

The US government issued waivers to 22 countries.

Bronke said Cambodia was not granted a waiver because the diplomatic process had not been finalized surrounding the agreement, called Article 98, which Foreign Minister Hor Namhong signed last week.

“The Article 98 is signed, but not put into force,” Bronke said. But, she said, “Both sides are working hard…. It is in the works.”

Bronke said Cambodia is not at risk for being ineligible for military aid, and she did not rule out its chances for getting a waiver in the future.

Cambodia has not received US military assistance since 1997. But last month, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly said it could resume military aid after the July 27 general elections if the elections are conducted fairly.

“Some [military] training may be possible after the election. This would be a small way to re-establish some kind of a military relationship,” Kelly said in a June 20 interview.

Bronke said any plans for military assistance to Cambodia would also be subject to a series of conditions, including the support of the US Congress.

At a Tuesday briefing, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher did not identify the countries that will be suspended from aid. The ban affects funding for military training and education.

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