King Norodom Sihamoni returned to Phnom Penh from Beijing on Sunday, where he spent the last two weeks visiting his ailing father, retired King Norodom Sihanouk.
King Sihamoni did not speak to reporters upon his arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport, but Funcinpec lawmaker Princess Norodom Vacheara, who greeted the King upon his return, told reporters that the 82-year-old Norodom Sihanouk is in frail health.
“The retired King is seriously sick,” said Princess Vacheara, Norodom Sihanouk’s half-sister. She added that he needs to stay in Beijing where doctors can monitor his health.
Norodom Sihanouk had been scheduled to return to Cambodia with his son on Sunday, in time for the King’s birthday celebrations from May 13 to May 15. But Norodom Sihanouk postponed his trip after doctors revealed he required further treatment for cancer. King Sihamoni’s mother, Queen Norodom Monineath, also remained in Beijing.
Princess Vacheara said despite his illness, Norodom Sihanouk will chair the first meeting of the Supreme National Council, set up to define Cambodia’s borders, as scheduled for Wednesday. “His health is still strong enough to hold the meeting,” she said.
The princess, who has been appointed to represent the National Assembly on the new seven-member border council, said all members have accepted Norodom Sihanouk’s invitation to hold the council’s inaugural meeting in Beijing.
She said the members will leave for the Chinese capital on Tuesday and return the day after the meeting.
Officials last week confirmed that CPP representative Say Chhum, Senator Chea Cheth, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and Funcinpec representative You Hockry had been appointed to participate in the border council.
In a letter to the retired King, opposition leader Sam Rainsy also agreed to meet in Beijing.
“We are meeting as one Khmer family and discuss [Cambodia’s borders in a] brotherly [manner],” Norodom Sihanouk wrote in a statement posted on his Web site that was dated Friday.
He said that after the meeting, he would ask Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong to arrange further meetings to discuss Cambodia’s borders with officials in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
“If I have enough strength, I will go to inspect the borders with representatives from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.
“If I have no strength, I will ask members of Supreme Border Council to continue working with representatives from three neighboring countries to protect our territorial integrity forever within the border framework between 1963 and 1969.”
(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)