US Defense Secretary Austin to Visit Cambodia Next Week

Lloyd Austin’s visit is a sign that Washington is seeking to re-engage the new look leadership in Phnom Penh, in a bid to draw the country out of China’s orbit.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Cambodia early next month in a bid to engage the country’s new-look leadership, amid concerns about its heavy reliance on China.

In a statement on Friday, the Defense Department said that Austin will travel to Phnom Penh on June 4 after attending the Shangri-La Dialogue defense forum in Singapore, where he will meet “with other counterparts from across the Indo-Pacific region,” and hold his first meeting with Dong Jun, the Chinese defense minister.

The Defense Department did not offer much detail about Austin’s visit to Cambodia, except that he would meet with “senior officials.” The Financial Times, quoting three U.S. officials, said that Austin will meet Prime Minister Hun Manet, son of the former leader Hun Sen, who took over from his father last August.

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