Prime Minister Departs for Moscow Ahead of Asean Summit

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday began a four-day visit to Moscow, where he is expected to sign a number of bilateral agreements and participate in the Russia-Asean summit.

The premier is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday during the summit, and will also meet with the new Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to “strengthen and widen relations and cooperation” be­tween the two countries, according to Srey Thamarong, a minister traveling in Mr. Hun Sen’s delegation, who spoke to reporters at Phnom Penh Inter­national Airport before departing on Monday night.

Prime Minister Hun Sen departs from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday night for a state visit to Russia. (Khem Sovannara)
Prime Minister Hun Sen departs from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday night for a state visit to Russia. (Khem Sovannara)

Mr. Hun Sen and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medved­ev will also sign eight agreements between the nations, according to Mr. Thamarong. Mr. Medvedev became the first senior Russian official since 1987 to visit Cam­bodia when he led a delegation to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in November last year.

The two countries will create a joint information center for nu­clear energy and sign a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a joint working group that aims to examine how nuclear power can be used for “a peaceful purpose,” Mr. Tham­arong said.

Justice will also be at the forefront of the meetings, with the two nations signing an extradition treaty as well as a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between Cambodia’s Justice Min­istry and Russia’s general prosecutor’s office.

A number of high-profile Rus­sian criminals have enjoyed res­pite from justice in Cambodia, although there have recently been several high-profile arrests and deportations of Russian fugitives. Millionaire property developer Sergei Polonsky, who lived a life of luxury in Cambodia, was al­lowed to stay for three years after being charged with embezzlement in his home country in 2013 before being deported last year. Ex-fugitive Vladimir Batalin is currently fighting deportation after being arrested in Sihanouk­ville on years-old embez­zlement charges.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin on Tuesday declined to give details on the treaty.

Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Medved­ev will also sign agreements on telecommunications and information technology, and will form a partnership between the Russian and Cambodian Mini­stries of Interior.

The $1.5 billion in debt that Cambodia owes Russia—borrowed from the former Soviet Union following the toppling of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979—is not on the official agenda.

Prime Minister Hun Sen outlined his itinerary in a Facebook post Tuesday.

“Today we have a full program, and tomorrow morning we will be meeting with nieces and nephews who are Cambodian students ­stud­ying in Russia,” he wrote.

(Additional reporting by Taylor O’Connell)

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