January 18, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Cambodian and Maldives leaders have agreed that the two countries should work more closely together in regional and international forums to foster peace, stability and common security, with the Kingdom now considering the island nation to be an important partner in the region due to the level of concord they were able to reach over the past few days of meetings.
The agreement came as Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on January 16 during his three-day visit.
At the meeting, they reviewed the entire range of bilateral engagement, including exploring new avenues to further strengthen cooperation on trade, investment, connectivity, health, culture, agriculture and human resources development.
They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, which led to their strategising regarding cooperation in multilateral contexts.
“The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the growing level of multilateral cooperation and agreed that representatives of both countries should collaborate more closely in various regional and international fora – including the UN – for the sake of peace, stability, security, sustainable development and shared prosperity,” according to a joint communique issued by their foreign ministries.
Hun Sen stated that he now considers Maldives to be a close friend and important partner of Cambodia in the region. The two leaders expressed their intentions to hold the first bilateral consultations between their foreign ministries as soon as possible.
“Both leaders underscored the importance of regular exchanges of high-level visits and consultations that would enhance the ways and means to strengthen and expand bilateral cooperation in all feasible areas for the mutual benefit of both nations,” the communique read.
Solih expressed his hopes that Cambodia will continue its support for Maldives in their ongoing efforts to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South East Asia (TAC), according to the statement.
At the January 16 meeting, Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid reaffirmed the view of his government that both countries should pursue closer cooperation in all aspects of bilateral relations as well as working together in a multilateral context both regionally and internationally.
“Minister Shahid also noted that Maldives stands ready to implement the outcomes agreed upon by the two leaders during their official talks held in the morning at the president’s office,” the statement said.
During the meeting, Maldives vice-president Faisal Naseem and Hun Sen expressed interest in working closely on all matters of mutual interest, particularly to enhance and strengthen the existing cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral level, it added.
Naseem expressed his belief that the exchange of visits at the highest levels is important to move bilateral relations forward. He also expressed confidence that the official talks concluded between the two nations would pave the way for greater cooperation between the two nations.
“The vice-president and the Cambodian prime minister expressed hope to continue frequent exchanges to further enhance the Maldives-Cambodia relationship and explore new avenues to strengthen the existing cooperation,” said the statement.
Hun Sen’s January 15-17 state visit to Maldives was his first after the two nations formally established diplomatic ties in 1995.
Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, said the visit was part of the Kingdom’s foreign policy and political agenda, but that it could eventually result in improved livelihoods and a boost to economic development in the future.
“This visit also reflected the economic policies of Cambodia, which is focused on diversifying the economy right now,” he told The Post.