Second Prime Minister Hun Sen asked a visiting top US official on Sunday to support the new Cambodian government but did not receive an answer, according to an aide.
Ros Kosal, a spokesman for Hun Sen, spoke to reporters after Hun Sen met for 90 minutes with Ralph Boyce, US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs.
“If the new government is doing well,” said Ros Kosal, then US-Cambodian relations would be good.
Boyce arrived Sunday afternoon and is in Cambodia for 24 hours to assess the new government as part of a larger tour of Asia. He met with Hun Sen and then separately with opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Sunday evening. Boyce is to meet Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh today.
According to Ros Kosal, Hun Sen asked for US aid to return to pre-July 1997 levels. Boyce said resumption of aid is possible, but not now.
“It certainly won’t be while I’m here this weekend,” Boyce said. “If there is a power-sharing arrangement in control, which is in everybody’s interest…you want to put foreign relations on as normal a track as soon as possible.”
Hun Sen explained to the US official that in the next five years he must build up democracy, have the opposition party in the National Assembly, build a multi-party system, respect human rights and solve the problems at Cambodia’s borders, Ros Kosal said. He added that Boyce would take the information he learned on this visit to the UN.
Speaking briefly to reporters after meeting Sam Rainsy, Boyce said only that after gathering the information he would be “weighing it carefully and assessing all our policy options.”
Earlier, Boyce indicated the importance of the UN seat.
“It’s not normal for a country not to be represented at the UN,” said Boyce after his meeting with Hun Sen. “The sooner that situation can be cleared up the better.”
The US representative said he was “very pleased by the apparent move to reconciliation and coalition.”
But Sam Rainsy urged him to be “cautious about the viability” of the new government.
“There are many things which can make people pleased,” Sam Rainsy said. “Things move forward. Hun Sen kisses Ranariddh
….it’s better to see people kissing than fighting, but how long they will be kissing each other is another matter.”
Additionally, the outspoken former finance minister said the US will back attempts to resolve complaints about irregularities in the July election. “I’m very happy,” he said after his meeting. “Boyce gave me assurances that the US will help those [electoral] complaints to be resolved.”
Boyce, when asked about the issue of alleged election fraud before meeting Sam Rainsy said, “everything is of interest to us” but would not elaborate further.
A senior US Embassy official refused comment Sunday night.
The CPP has refused to revisit alleged electoral irregularities since the National Election Committee and Constitutional Council dismissed hundreds of complaints. Political analysts said the issue effectively died on Sept 24, when the National Assembly was sworn in based on the results.