Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway began a four-day tour of Cambodia as a UN Development Program Goodwill Ambassador Tuesday to discuss the agency’s role in improving Cambodia’s economy and quality of life.
After a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Prince Haakon said the two “talked about issues of development in Cambodia, and UNDP’s role in that,” including the Millenium Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015.
“I think it is Cambodians themselves who need to address these issues,” he said at a press conference Tuesday, but did not specify how Cambodia might reach that goal. “The prime minister insisted on talking about history and framing the meeting in an historical context,” Prince Haakon said. “It is impressive that Cambodia has come such a long way in such a short time.”
Asked about Norway’s involvement as a potential donor for the planned Khmer Rouge tribunal, Prince Haakon deferred to Ragne Lund, Norwegian ambassador to Thailand. “We do not yet have the final setup of the tribunal,” said Lund, who accompanied the prince in Phnom Penh. But, she said: “I’m sure that the Norwegian government will give [tribunal funding] due consideration.”
Later at the QMI garment factory, Prince Haakon spoke with workers under a grid of fluorescent lights and the chatter of sewing machines.
Prince Haakon, however, deferred to Lund when asked about possible trade agreements or other assistance Norway might offer to soften Cambodia’s transition into the WTO.
“Norway has already abolished [textile] quotas,” Lund said, adding that should WTO membership have a negative impact on Cambodia’s economy, Norway could be among the countries to provide assistance.
On Tuesday morning, Prince Haakon also met with National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh. During his visit, Prince Haakon is expected to visit Kompong Chhnang and Siem Reap provinces.