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Hu's Cambodia visit to strengthen ties (2)

By Wu Jiao and Zhou Wa (China Daily)

08:09, March 31, 2012

Cambodia is the host country for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2012.

In a written interview with China Daily, Cambodia ambassador to China Khek M Cai Mealy said that "Cambodia, as a chair country for the ASEAN meetings, will help coordinate ties between China and other ASEAN countries".

The ambassador also urged involved ASEAN countries to not let the South China Sea issue affect bilateral ties.

China, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia all hold claims to some of the South China Sea and its islands.

China prefers to negotiate with individual countries and not internationalize the disputes. But some ASEAN countries want a collective voice in the negotiations.

Milton Osborne, a Cambodia expert and visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia, said suggestions that China would exert pressure over the South China Sea issue were just speculation, but that Cambodia would want to avoid any acrimony on its watch.

"Cambodia is in a privileged position in its dealings with China, and I don't think it is going to abandon that position," Reuters quoted Milton as saying.

Upon arriving at Phnom Penh, Hu immediately had a telephone conversation with King Norodom Sihanoak's wife, and thanked her for the efforts in nurturing the bilateral relationship.

Phnom Penh gave a warm welcome for the Chinese president, erecting a huge portrait of Hu and his wife Liu Yongqing alongside a portrait of King Norodom Sihamoni at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

Tens of thousands people also lined the street, holding the national flags of China and Cambodia, to welcome Hu and the Chinese delegation.

【1】 【2】

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