PHNOM PENH, July 29 -- Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said Friday that the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea is not related with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"As a non-claimant state in the dispute, Cambodia takes no side," he said in a press conference. "The dispute is only between China and the Philippines, not between China and ASEAN."
The minister said that it is "unfair" that some certain countries accused Cambodia of taking sides in the dispute.
"Cambodia just has good intention to avoid escalating tensions in the South China Sea," he said, adding that the Cambodia's foreign policy is "neutral."
Prak Sokhonn underlined that ASEAN-China relationship is crucial to maintain peace, stability and development in the region.
"We just marked the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-China relations ... and all sides acknowledged that the strategic partnership of cooperation between ASEAN and China was very important for both sides," he said.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said during an interview with a popular Bayon TV channel on Tuesday that Cambodia encouraged the parties directly concerned in the South China Sea issue to resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations.
He called on powerful countries outside the region to cease their interference in the South China Sea issue, saying that their actions could lead to an arms race in the region.