Hun Sen Starts Tour of Cuba

Prime Minister Hun Sen was scheduled to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro on Thurs­day as part of the premier’s week-long visit to the communist island, meant to strengthen ties between the two former Cold War allies.

Hun Sen arrived in Cuba Wed­nesday, greeted by Cuban For­eign Minister Felipe Perez, Reut­ers reported.

He is scheduled to tour Cuba’s Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana, which produces a number of medical and biotechnological goods, including vaccines for export, according to Reuters. Hun Sen also will visit the Cuban state company Labiofam, which makes an anti-rodent pesticide being used in Southeast Asia.

The meeting with Castro was scheduled for the Palace of the Revolution, Agence France-Presse reported.

Cambodia was a distant ally of Cuba during the Cold War. In 1979, the Vietnamese army forced the Khmer Rouge from power and occupied Cambodia with its communist doctrine until 1989. The collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe contributed to the Viet­namese army’s withdrawal from Cambodia, though Cam­bodia remained a communist state until 1991. It has been gradually shaking communist tendencies since.

The visit to Cuba is part of Hun Sen’s tour of North America, which includes the opening of the 54th session of the UN Gen­eral Assembly and a summit of French-speaking nations in Can­ada.

The trip to the General As­semb­ly session in New York marks a reaffirmation of Hun Sen’s legitimacy after the UN voted last December to restore Cambodia’s seat, which was left vacant after factional fighting effectively ousted Hun Sen’s coalition partner in 1997.



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