Officials Deny PM Cut India Visit Over Welcome Slight

Officials in Phnom Penh dismissed Indian press reports that Prime Minister Hun Sen and his delegation cut short their visit to New Delhi because they were irked over the lack of a welcoming ceremony.

Hun Sen arrived in India on Sunday and returned to Cambodia on Monday cutting short his three-day state visit due to Sunday’s death of former Indian prime minister Chandra Shekhar.

The Times of India and the Hin­dustan Times newspapers both claimed that the Cambodian delegation returned because it felt slighted after receiving no welcoming ceremony. The Times of India on Tuesday referred to the cancellation as a “diplomatic tangle” in an article entitled “Cambodia PM Miffed, Cuts Short Visit.”

Cambodia’s Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith on Thursday denied the newspaper reports and said Hun Sen postponed the trip out of respect for India and the nation’s mourning for their former prime minister.

“[Hun Sen] was not upset,” he said, adding that Indian and Cambo­dian officials are working to schedule a date for another visit.

An official at the Indian Embassy also denied the reports on Wednes­day and applauded Hun Sen for agreeing to postpone his trip.

“[Hun Sen] graciously agreed to come back to Cambodia,” said the official, on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday the Hindustan Times wrote in a article entitled “No Welcome Ceremony Sent Hun Sen Back,” that India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee offered to continue with all meetings except the ceremonial ones, but the Cam­bodian visitors declined the offer and chose instead to return.

“When Indian officials told the Cambodians that visiting Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen could not be accorded an official welcome ceremony…they decided to leave,” the paper reported.

(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)


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