Cambodian officials accuse Washington of interference after denying US attaché full access to Ream Naval Base

The defence ministry says American Colonel Marcus Ferrara asked to inspect parts of Ream that were not named in proposals. Two US-built structures there were razed last year, sparking concerns that China will benefit from upgrades to the base.

Ties between the United States and Cambodia, already strained over possible privileges given to China
at a naval base in the Southeast Asian nation, have grown more tense after officials in Phnom Penh accused Washington of interference during a visit by an American diplomat.

Lieutenant General Suon Samnang, deputy general director of policy and foreign affairs at the Cambodian defence ministry, on Friday said outgoing US defence attaché Colonel Marcus Ferrara had wanted to inspect a site at the Ream Naval Base where American-built facilities once stood.

The buildings were demolished without notifying Washington last year, and the subsequent rapid completion of two new structures this year sparked US concerns that China would benefit from the upgrades at the base in Sihanoukville province. Defence Minister Tea Banh last week said China would help modernise and expand Ream, but added that Beijing would not be given exclusive privilege to use the base.

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