US experts are coordinating security plans with Cambodian counterparts ahead of next week’s Asean Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, which is scheduled to be attended by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, officials said Wednesday.
Twenty members of the Interior Ministry’s Bodyguard Department have already undergone special anti-terrorist training provided by US experts, said Major General Sim Sophal, department director.
Sim Sophal declined to reveal how many security personnel will be assigned the task of protecting Powell and a plethora of visiting leaders, including ministers from the 10 Asean countries, Russia, China and the European Union.
Some 8,000 police officers and 450 military police personnel were placed on alert in Phnom Penh for November’s 8th Asean Summit, which brought together 15 heads of state and 1,000 visiting officials.
Discussions on the security plans with the US experts were held Tuesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sim Sophal said.
“[The US] relies on us a lot. They do not bring special vehicles or ships like they have with other countries,” he said.
According to Sim Sophal, the possibility of a terrorist attack and the prevention of street demonstrations have dominated Cambodia’s security planning.
The bodyguards “are in an amount guaranteed to provide safety. We thought firstly about terrorism and secondly not to allow demonstrations,” he said.
Among the items likely to be discussed at next week’s meeting will be the recent attack on Burma’s pro-democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the Indonesian army’s operations in the restive province of Aceh.
“I’m sure the dialogue partners will raise these issues. It is highly unlikely this agenda will escape” being raised, a Phnom Penh-based analyst said Tuesday.
A senior foreign ministry official also said Wednesday that North Korea’s foreign minister has canceled plans to attend the Asean meeting.
The North Koreans did not give a reason, the official said on condition of anonymity.
(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)