Gov’t Withdraws Support for Japan UN Seat

In the wake of tensions be­tween China and Japan, Cam­bo­dia has re­treated from its previous support for Japan’s membership in the UN Security Council, as Fo­reign Min­is­ter Hor Namhong said Cam­bo­dia would take a wait-and-see ap­proach to Japan’s membership.

Hor Namhong said Cambodia, which has grown closer to China in recent years, would wait to see how other countries res­pond to Ja­pan’s bid before voicing its position on the issue.

“In the past, Cambodia always ex­pressed our support for Japan, India and Germany to be admitted into the permanent council of the United Nations,” Hor Namhong told reporters at a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday, after returning from an Asian-Af­ri­can summit in Jakarta.

But, he added: “Right now, we have to wait and see [if] there is a general tendency [before stating] whether or not we support.”

He said while some believe the UN Se­curity Council should be ex­pand­ed, others preferred the status quo.

Hor Namhong’s statement was seen as tempering earlier support for Japan expressed by National As­­sembly President Prince No­rodom Ranariddh.

Prince Ranariddh on Friday said “it is justice for Japan to be admitted into the UN Security Council” because Japan played an important role on the world stage.

While Japan has traditionally been the biggest foreign aid donor to Cambodia, China has become a major player on Cambodia’s business front, with Chinese companies in­creasingly investing here.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social De­vel­op­ment said Hor Namhong’s ambiguity over Cambodia’s stance on Japan was “political backtracking” in favor of appeasing China.

“The government is seemingly biased toward China in the wake of souring diplomatic tensions be­tween Japan and China,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Ju­ni­chi­ro Koi­zu­mi and Chinese Pres­i­dent Wu Jintao met during the Asian-Afri­can summit to iron out tensions but failed to reconcile.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who re­­­­turned with Hor Namhong from Ja­­­­kar­­­ta on Monday, declined to speak to reporters at Phnom Penh In­ter­na­tional Air­­port.



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