US Brigadier General Visits for Counterterrorism, Security Talks

US Brigadier General Richard Simcock is to arrive in Phnom Penh today for a three-day visit with officials from the Ministry of National Defense, according to a US Embassy statement.

The visit is one of a growing number by Chinese and US military officials as both countries increasingly vie for influence in Cambodia.

Brig Gen Simcock, principle director for South and Southeast Asia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, will meet with the ministry to discuss peacekeeping, maritime security and counterterrorism, according to the embassy.

His visit is one in a series of recent trips to Cambodia by US military personnel and high-ranking officials. Last week, US ma­rines held a weeklong course in parachuting skills for marines and members of RCAF aimed at im­proving readiness for disaster-relief efforts.

Earlier this month, the commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, its largest, met with officials from the Royal Cambodian Navy to discuss “regional issues”; and in February, the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship, docked at Sihanoukville Port for a regional security cooperation program involving the Cambodian military.

Likewise, senior Chinese military officials have in recent years increasingly focused their attention on Cambodia.

In 2011, China provided a great deal of support to the Cambodian military, most notably last week when the two countries signed a $195.5 million loan for Cambodia to purchase Chinese-made military helicopters.

In May, the Chinese government partially fulfilled a 2009 pro­mise to provide $14.7 million in military aid to Cambodia, a commitment made after the US had canceled delivery of 200 refurbished military vehicles following Cambo­dia’s deportation to China of 20 ethnic Uighur asylum-seekers.

In June, Cambodia sent a delegation to China to meet with Chi­nese defense officials, a visit De­fense Minister Tea Banh at the time said was aimed at strengthening relations “with our friend China.”



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