Visa Practice to Involve Official Business Only

A dispatch from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will end the practice of issuing official visas to dignitaries and foreign aid workers upon arrival in airports in Phnom Penh. From now on, the government says, the visas will have to be obtained in advance.

The new system, effective Fri­day, says Cambodian “embassies and consulates will issue these entry visas free of charge to official members of governmental delegations, to visitors, guests of the Royal Government of Cam­bodia and to official staff of diplomatic missions, UN agencies and international organizations and their family members on their official missions to Cam­bodia” in advance, the dispatch states.

Cambodia has 22 consulates, embassies and missions abroad, according to Hor Sothoun, head of the press department for the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

But while Hor Sothoun said the dispatch was issued on April 30, it has only come to light in the last few days. Com­bined with misleading language in the dispatch, it has ruffled the feathers of the international community here.

“We’re trying to get it clear ourselves. It’s been very difficult to try and track it down,” said one US Embassy official.

According to the ministry dispatch, “Travelers are kindly advised to apply, prior to their departure to Cambodia, for ap­propriate entry visas at the nearest Royal Cam­bodian em­bassies or consulates.”

Hor Sothoun, however, said the new practice would not affect business people or tourists.

(Ad­ditional reporting by Stew Mag­nuson)

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