Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spent his second day in Cambodia making social calls on King Norodom Sihanouk, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and CPP President Chea Sim.
The 75-year-old Indian premier also met briefly Wednesday with co-Ministers of Defense Tea Banh and Prince Sisowath Sirirath at the Independence Monument, where Vajpayee dedicated a wreath to Cambodia.
“There are so many cultural relations between Cambodia and India,” said Prince Sirirath. “Traditionally, we have been very attached to Indian art and architecture.”
India’s cultural relations with Cambodia were extended and solidified when officials traveling with the Indian prime minister inked a pact Tuesday with Cambodian officials to help renovate the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap.
Political relations were also advanced when Vajpayee agreed to provide a judge for the Khmer Rouge trials if the UN continues to insist that it will not take part in any tribunal.
Before Vajpayee left Phnom Penh for Siem Reap Wednesday, he met with Phnom Penh’s Indian business leaders at the Hotel Le Royal.
One Indian businessman said he believes the Indian government is looking to expand its political and economic presence in Cambodia and Laos.
“India does not want to go to become involved with Malaysia, Singapore, or even Thailand because India cannot support those countries—they are already self-sufficient,” said Sandeep Mujumdar, country representative for the Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla and a member of an informal Indian business association.
“We want to get involved with Laos and Cambodia because there are needs and more room for development.”